Friday, April 27, 2012

Eroding Academic Freedom in Michigan

Two University of Michigan graduate student research assistants (GSRAs) have filed a lawsuit to overturn a recently-passed law banning GSRAs from unionizing in the state of Michigan.
Alix Gould-Werth and Christie Toth filed the suit in federal court on Tuesday against the Michigan Employment Relations Commission.

The suit claims that the law, pushed through at the last minute by Michigan Republicans and signed by Gov. Rick Snyder, violates the state constitution and the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution.

In the suit, they say the new law, signed by Snyder on March 13, singles GSRAs out.

“It restricts a single class of public employees from the rights available to every other public employee whether employed by a university, a college, a public authority, a school district, a city or a county,” they said in the suit. “(The law) asserts that Graduate Student Research Assistants are not employees without a factual basis for the conclusion.”

Meanwhile, the state legislators are considering another law that targets public universities. It will vote on Section 273a, passed by the House Appropriations Subcommittee, which, according to the Lansing State Journal, reads:
It is the intent of the legislature that a public university that receives funds in section 236 shall not collaborate in any manner with a nonprofit worker center whose documented activities include coercion through protest, demonstration, or organization against a Michigan business.

UPDATE: The Board of Regents at the University of Michigan wants to join a federal lawsuit on GSRA unionization. In its filing, the Regents argue the state law violates the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution by singling out a particular class of employees for special action.

No comments: