Even though the Michigan Student Assembly won’t vote on a resolution regarding the unionization of graduate student research assistants until next week, members of the campus community voiced their opinions on the issue at last night’s assembly meeting.
Graduate students of many different disciplines spoke at the meeting in the MSA Chambers about the assembly resolution, which would support GSRAs’ ability to vote to form a union. MSA representatives consented to send the resolution onto the resolutions committee and the assembly vote is expected to take place next Tuesday.
About 10 members of the Graduate Employees Organization, a labor union that represents graduate student instructors and graduate student staff assistants at the University, attended the meeting to show support for the resolution.
In an interview after the meeting, MSA president DeAndree Watson said he likes the language of the resolution because it demonstrates MSA’s intention to support the GSRAs’ right to vote to form a union.
“We agree it is important for GSRAs, as a group, to be able to have that choice,” Watson said.
He added that the assembly’s vote on the resolution is important to members of the campus community since MSA has an impact on the decisions made by University administrators.
“I actually think this is a resolution that’s going to have some significant effects on this issue on campus,” Watson said.
Rackham student Samantha Montgomery, president of GEO, said she is in favor of the resolution because its passage would show that the assembly recognizes GSRAs’ right to vote to form a union.
“As the president of the GEO, we stand with the tens of hundreds of graduate student research assistants who want to vote to form a union,” Montgomery said in an interview after the meeting.
The University’s Board of Regents voted on May 19 to classify GSRAs as University employees, giving them the ability to unionize. But the decision isn’t valid because of a 1981 ruling by the Michigan Employment Relations Commission that says students are not public employees.
Rackham student Stephen Raiman also attended yesterday’s meeting as a representative of Students Against GSRA Unionization.
“We believe that all GSRAs should be able to decide for themselves, not as a group, whether they want to be able to join a union or not,” Raiman said in an interview after the meeting.
Raiman and Montgomery said they expect representatives from each of their groups to be at next week’s meeting when the vote will take place.