The Michigan Supreme Court has denied to hear a request from Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette to stop a hearing to determine if graduate assistants at the University of Michigan can unionize.
According to the order, released this afternoon, MCL 24.301 only allows interlocutory appeals in contested cases. Chief Justice Robert P. Young noted that “While the proposed intervenors [Schuette and a group opposed to the research assistants organizing] present nonfrivolous arguments rejecting that claim, the Court of Appeals does not have jurisdiction in this particular matter … .”
Justice Stephen J. Markman concurred even though he said he shares the “unsuccessful intervenors’ concerns regarding the manifest unfairness of the fact-finding hearing now underway before the administrative law judge as a result of [Michigan Employment Relations Commission]’s denial of the two motions to intervene … . ”
He said that because the university and the Graduate Student Research Assistants agree that the assistants are public employees, “there is no party to represent the alternative legal position that GSRAs do not constitute ‘public employees’ under [Public Employee Relations Act].”
MERC denied a motion to intervene, stating: “We must carry out our statutory responsibility … without interference from non-parties opposed to the very rights provided to public employees by PERA.”
However, Markman wrote that “It would seem that in carrying out its statutory responsibility, MERC might have viewed it as helpful, rather than as a matter of ‘interference,’ that it be presented with arguments on both sides of an issue under consideration.”