Bill halts research assistants’ unionization efforts

Michigan Senate Republicans, frustrated that Democrats had blocked their bill to prohibit graduate student research assistants from deciding on whether or not they could join a union, added language to another bill in order to push the legislation through yesterday.

The bill was rushed through in an apparent effort to stop the University of Michigan research assistants, who are currently awaiting word on whether or not their election will be ordered. For more on that, read Michigan Lawyers Weekly’s story here. (Subscription required.)

The Senate added the language, originally in Senate Bill 971, to House Bill 4246, the “Local Government and School District Accountability Act.”

The bill passed on March 7, with votes along party lines, over Democrat objections — 26-12 in the Senate and 63-47 in the House.

The bill is awaiting Gov. Rick Snyder’s signature; it would have immediate effect.

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House takes up bills to fine unions, striking employees

The House committee on Oversight, Reform and Ethics met early this afternoon to take up a package of bills that labor unions have called anti-worker, and anti-union.

Among them, HB 5025, which would require annual written consent of a worker before union dues could be deducted from their paychecks. Right now, workers do have to give written consent, but they only have to do it upon hire. Jim Pederson of the UAW called it “onerous and burdensome legislation,” and stated that he believes it’s illegal.

Also on the agenda were bills that would change the way employers can advertise to fill positions when union workers are on strike, legislation that would fine striking public employees, and a bill that would fine organizations for mass picketing.

NLRB requires employers to post worker rights notices

It doesn’t matter if you’re a union shop or not. Starting in mid-November, you will be required to post notice of worker rights to organize, and to be protected from abuses by labor unions.

The National Labor Relations board issued the final rule — following a 60-day comment period that drew some 7,000 responses — which requires most private employers to notify employees of their rights.

Private-sector employers (including labor organizations) whose workplaces fall under the National Labor Relations Act will be required to post the employee rights notice where other workplace notices are typically posted, according to a press release from the NLRB. Also, employers who customarily post notices to employees regarding personnel rules or policies on an Internet or Intranet site will be required to post the board’s notice on those sites. Copies of the notice will be available from the agency’s regional offices, and it may also be downloaded from the NLRB website.

The notice, which is similar to one required by the U.S. Department of Labor for federal contractors, states that employees have the right to act together to improve wages and working conditions, to form, join and assist a union, to bargain collectively with their employer, and to refrain from any of these activities. It provides examples of unlawful employer and union conduct and instructs employees how to contact the NLRB with questions or complaints.

To see a list of frequently asked questions, click here.

Op-ed: Organized labor losing its grip

From the Traverse City Record Eagle:

For as long as I can remember, organized labor has been a powerful — perhaps the most powerful — influence in Michigan politics, most of all within the Democratic Party.

Especially in the southeast part of our state, nothing of political consequence happened for decades without the major unions signing off on it, or at the bare minimum, offering grudging acceptance. Yet now, with Michigan still firmly in the grip of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, people appear increasingly disconnected from the usual political process and from their traditional designated leaders. Significantly, this includes union members and their families, as well.

Mail or e-mail? Ingham judge will decide union contract vote issue

A labor pact between Michigan State University and over 1,700 members of the Administrative Professionals Association is on hold until Ingham County Circuit Court Judge Paula Manderfield decides whether APA officials were authorized to conduct a ratification vote by e-mail.

Judge Manderfield enjoined enforcement of the union-approved contract last week after some members complained that APA bylaws require voting by mail, not e-mail.

A hearing is scheduled for Nov. 15. The Lansing State Journal has the story.