The University of Michigan and the Graduate Employees’ Organization have reached a settlement on the unfair labor practice charges filed by each party with the Michigan Employment Relations Commission. This settlement comes after an April 17 ruling by a state judge that GEO’s strike violates their current contract and an April 10 ruling by a Washtenaw County Circuit Court judge that did not grant the University an injunction against GEO, which would have legally required striking GEO members to return to work.
According to a press release from GEO, the University and GEO have dropped all ULPs with MERC with prejudice. This means the ULPs are permanently dismissed, and that the University dropped a lawsuit for damages against GEO.
“GEO have reached a settlement with University of Michigan Administration on several Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) charges that were pending with the Michigan Employment Relations Commission,” the press release said. “Both sides have agreed to drop their respective ULPs, with prejudice, as part of the settlement. In addition, the University has agreed to drop its suit for damages against (GEO).”
In an email to The Michigan Daily, University spokesperson Kim Broekhuizen wrote that the April 17 decision is still valid, and the University can refile the lawsuit for damages against GEO in the future if they choose.
“This agreement settles the three ULPs the union had pending before the Michigan Employment Relations Commission, as well as the one pending charge filed by the University,” Broekhuizen wrote. “The union agreed that a prior decision issued by a MERC administrative law judge that GEO committed an unfair labor practice by striking in violation of its contract will not be withdrawn or appealed. That decision stands. We also agreed to drop a lawsuit against the union seeking damages for the financial implications to the university’s winter term operations stemming from the union’s ongoing illegal strike. The union agreed that we can refile the lawsuit seeking those damages at any time.”
Evelyn Smith, Rackham student and GEO lead contract negotiator, said in the press release that, although GEO still believes the University has violated state labor laws, the settlement opens up the opportunity for both parties to reach an agreement.
“While we remain adamant that (the) administration’s actions throughout this bargaining process represent clear and unacceptable violations of state labor law, this settlement means that our bargaining team—made up exclusively of graduate workers with full-time jobs—will be able to focus this summer on negotiating a great contract for our members,” Smith said. “It’s time for the administration to get serious about these negotiations and give graduate workers an offer that meets our needs.”
Summer News Editor Miles Anderson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.