Though the official hearing before the administrative law judge regarding a group of graduate student research assistants’ unionization efforts ended last Monday, a number of groups are filing documents in preparation for an extension of the hearing process beginning on Feb. 20.

On Thursday, Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette and the Students Against GSRA Unionization filed requests with the administrative law judge to call witnesses and receive evidence. The Graduate Employees’ Organization — the union representing graduate students — plans to respond today to the decision to allow outside parties to produce evidence by either filing an amicus curiae brief, or another type of motion, according to GEO’s communications chair Liz Rodrigues.

There is no guarantee that the requested witnesses will be allowed to testify, because the decision will be made at the discretion of Julia Stern, the administrative law judge assigned to the case. However, Stephen Raiman, a Rackham student and SAGU founder, said he is confident Stern will allow the witnesses, including himself, to testify.

“We don’t anticipate that the judge will refuse our witnesses,” Raiman said. “We think they’ll likely make it to the stand.”

GEO’s response, once filed, will likely address the issue of whether or not SAGU and the attorney general’s witnesses should be allowed to testify based on the standards set up by Stern before the hearing. According to Rodrigues, witnesses must bring new facts to the table, not just new opinions, and GEO plans to challenge the idea that the new witnesses will actually present new, accurate information.

“If the administrative law judge admits their testimony, it’s because she thinks it’s important, so I’ll leave the fairness of it up to her,” Rodrigues said.

Witnesses being called by Schuette include Engineering Dean David Munson; LSA Dean Terrence McDonald; Kate Barald, chair of the Senate Advisory Committee on University Affairs, and Stephen Forrest, the University’s vice president for research, among others.

“That’s a surprise to me,” Raiman said of the attorney general’s witness list. “A pleasant surprise, though.”

Raiman added that he believes the testimony of those like Barald and Forrest will ultimately support Schuette and SAGU’s case.

“They’re called by the attorney general, so the attorney general definitely thinks that they have something to say, which strengthens our case,” Raiman said.

He added that he believes the positions of some administrators will definitely add credibility to the case against unionization.

“I feel that the deans of the colleges will have a lot of relevant information to say about the role of GSRAs in the University,” Raiman said. “I think that Dr. Forrest knows about the research operation at this University, maybe better than anyone, so I believe his testimony will be very valuable in proving that GSRAs are (students and not employees).”

Rodrigues said she does not think the fact that some of the University’s top administrators are being called to testify by Schuette, who is opposed to unionization, should influence the outcome of the hearing or the decision of the Michigan Employment Relations’ Commission. MERC has the final say in whether or not GSRAs will be granted the right to vote to unionize, she added.

“Everyone, ultimately, is entitled to their view on this issue,” Rodrigues said. “But ultimately it’s not administrators who should be able to make this decision; it’s the rights of the people who are doing the work — the GSRAs.”

The witnesses, if granted the right to testify, will be called before the administrative judge between Feb. 20 and Feb. 24. While the testimony will not function like the rest of the hearing — there will be no cross examinations, for example — the judge will ask questions and the parties will be allowed to submit evidence.

Correction appended: In a previous version of this article, SAGU founder Stephen Raiman misspoke regarding his view on whether GSRAs are students or employees.

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