University Of Michigan Graduate Student Research Assistants Don't Have Right To Unionize, Commission Rules

Sharon Rieger's picture
Tuesday, August 9, 2011

University of Michigan graduate student research assistants will not be allowed to unionize after a ruling today by the Michigan Employment Relations Commission.

However, officials from the university's Graduate Employees Union said they still anticipate going ahead with a vote to potentially bring the graduate student research assistants into the union.

The university’s board of regents voted in May to allow the graduate student research assistants to unionize, against the advice of university president Mary Sue Coleman. The decision was challenged by the Mackinac Center Legal Foundation in late July on behalf of Melinda Day, a graduate research assistant in the Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology Department.

The MERC decision upheld the 1981 decision that graduate student research assistants were not public employees. Patrick Wright, director of the Mackinac Center Legal Foundation, said the decision was “a victory for the rule of law.”

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