I was disappointed by the many misrepresentations contained in The Michigan Daily’s recent editorial concerning the efforts of graduate student research assistants to form a union (One union doesn’t fit all, 02/22/2011).
The editorial said that the Graduate Employees’ Organization had “overstepped its bounds” in efforts to unionize GSRAs. The piece’s tone also indicated that GEO was trying to bully the University into making GSRAs join GEO.
Both of these suggestions are false. First, in the current contract negotiations between GEO and the University, the subject of GSRAs is what is known as a “permissive subject” of bargaining, as the Daily points out. The University is within its rights not to discuss the issue. However, GEO also has a right to bring the issue up at the table – it’s not somehow out of bounds.
But more important is the misrepresentation of what precisely GEO wants. The union isn’t trying to get GSRAs incorporated into the union by the stroke of a pen against their will. Instead, we want the University to agree to a process under which GSRAs can make their own decisions about whether or not they want to have a union. Specifically, we want the University to remain neutral during the organizing campaign and not spread misinformation among GSRAs while they think about their decision to sign a card signifying that they want union representation.
Organizing Committee Chair, Graduate Employees’ Organization