UPDATED: CMU rejects requests from unions to extend contracts



Editor's note: This story has been corrected for accuracy.

Less than six weeks before the state’s right-to-work law takes effect, Central Michigan University rejected requests from two campus unions looking to add security clauses to their contracts that would keep members paying dues for several years.

Contracts ratified after the law takes effect March 28 will make union dues optional for members.

The Faculty Association, comprised of about 650 tenure and tenure-track faculty, requested to engage in bargaining with the goal of adding a security clause.

“We were proposing (a clause) lasting up to 10 years, but nothing was set,” FA President Laura Frey said. “We were willing to sit down and discuss what would have been reasonable, but we were not given the opportunity to engage in that.”

The FA’s contract, ratified last January after more than five months of negotiations and a one-day strike, will expire in June 2014.

Earlier this month, CMU’s chapter of the AFSCME union for maintenance and custodial workers also filed a request for a security clause in their contract, which expires June 30, 2014, said Kevin Smart, director of employee relations.

The proposed agreement would keep members paying dues until June 30, 2022, Smart said.

In a statement to faculty and staff Wednesday, the university said it will reject all such requests by unions on campus in order to “comply with the intent of the law.”

“CMU has reviewed the requests and concluded the outcomes of the proposals, while not illegal, would prevent employees from exercising their rights under Michigan’s new right-to-work legislation,” Provost Gary Shapiro said Wednesday in an email issued to staff obtained by Central Michigan Life.

The Graduate Student Union began bargaining Feb. 15 on a new contract that will go into effect July 1 and is subject to the right-to-work laws.

Outside of formal bargaining, the GSU asked to discuss the idea of a security clause agreement, union president Michelle Campbell said Wednesday night.

“The Graduate Student Union is disappointed and disheartened that the leadership of Central Michigan University decided to take this stance regarding collective bargaining,” Campbell said via email. “Unlike Central Michigan University, many other institutions around the state are coming to the table to discuss similar reasonable proposals.”

Districts across the state, including Wayne State University, are racing to get their contracts in place before the new law takes effect, The Detroit News reported earlier this week.

WSU’s faculty union, which represents nearly 2,000 faculty members and staff, has been bargaining since last summer. It could reach an agreement this week, union leadership told The News. The faculty had been seeking a 10-year contract, but the issue was later resolved.

Eastern Michigan University settled contracts with adjuncts and lecturers unions this week, a university spokesman said. Neither included security clauses.

The lecturers union at the University of Michigan is currently bargaining on its contract, which expires April 20, a spokesman said.

The Union of Teaching Faculty, which represents about 340 adjunct-faculty members at CMU, did not request a security clause, union president Jim Eikrem said in an email.

CMU is preparing to begin bargaining with unions for public broadcasting employees, office professionals and the supervisory/technical association, Smart said. All three union contracts expire June 30.


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