The University of Michigan, an encyclopedic survey ... Wilfred B. Shaw, editor.
University of Michigan.

Employee Unions

The Hutchison Act of 1947 in Michigan provided mediation procedures and established penalties for illegal strikes for public employees. The Public Employee Relations Act of 1965 in Michigan provided for collective bargaining and also prohibited strikes, but provided no strike penalties. Following this legislation in 1965, union activity began at a significant level.

The history of employee union contracts began with the first contract negotiated with the International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) for a small number of turbine and boiler operators and operating engineers, effective September 13, 1968. In rapid succession, contracts were negotiated with the Washtenaw County Local Building Trades Board of Directors (WCLBTBD) for skilled tradesmen effective October 4, 1968, and the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees for a large group of service Page  35and maintenance workers on November 15, 1968. On November 13, 1973, the first contract was negotiated with the House Officers Association (HOA), for medical interns and residents at the Medical Center. After lengthy discussions and hearings, a contract was negotiated on March 14, 1975, with the Graduate Employees Organization (GEO) representing a large number of graduate student assistants, research assistants, and teaching assistants. A contract for clerical workers was negotiated on August 21, 1975, with the United Auto Workers (UAW), which was terminated August 31, 1976, after a decertification election of the clerical employees. The newest contract was negotiated on April 9, 1976, after several attempts in recent years, with the University of Michigan Nurses Association (UMNA) for nonsupervisory registered nurses, most of whom work at the University Hospital. Work stoppages of short duration by skilled tradesmen and service workers have occurred occasionally. Fortunately, these have not resulted in major impacts on University operations.

Additional information follows in the detailed descriptions of each union group history:

International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE)

In August 1965, following the passage of Public Act No. 376 of 1965, the IUOE petitioned the Michigan Labor Mediation Board to be recognized as the bargaining agent for the operating engineers, turbine operators, and boiler operators working at the University. An election was delayed while the University challenged the constitutionality of the Act, but following the trades strike in September 1967, and the University's announcement it would follow the election procedures while the courts were deciding the question, an election was held on November 6, 1967.

As a result of that election, Local 546 of the International Union of Operating Engineers was certified as the exclusive bargaining representative of the employees in the affected classifications.

Currently sixty-one employees engaged in the maintenance and operation of the University's heating and power plants Page  36are represented by IUOE. Employees represented by IUOE were first hired at the Flint Campus in November, 1976.

Six contracts have been negotiated with the Operating Engineers. The effective dates have been: September 13, 1968; January 1, 1970; April 1, 1972; March 31, 1974; April 1, 1976; October 1, 1977. The current contract expires November 30, 1979.

Washtenaw County Local Building Trades Board of Directors (WCLBTBD)

The Washtenaw County Local Building Trades Board of Directors (Council) was certified on November 17, 1967, as the exclusive bargaining representative for the various skilled maintenance trades classifications. This unit represents approximately 300 employees. Certification resulted after the Washtenaw Circuit Court ruled on the constitutionality of Public Act No. 379 of 1965, finding that the University employees had the right to organize and bargain collectively.

Five contracts have been negotiated with the Council, effective as follows: October 4, 1968; January 1, 1970; April 1, 1972; July 18, 1974; August 1, 1977. A work stoppage (strike) occurred during the 1974 negotiations from June 26, 1974 to July 18, 1974. The current contract expires July 31, 1979.

American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees-Local 1853

AFSCME is an international labor organization headquartered in Washington, D.C. The largest public employee union in the country, it is affiliated with the AFL/CIO. AFSCME Local 1583 represents approximately 2400 service and maintenance employees at the University.

AFSCME filed a petition with the Michigan Employment Relations Commission for a representation election in September of 1967, and an election was held April 25, 1968, resulting in AFSCME's recognition as the bargaining agent (union) for all regular service/maintenance employees except those in the trades and the operating engineers. AFSCME Page  37has negotiated four contracts with the University. The effective dates of the contracts have been: November 15, 1968; February 8, 1971; March 7, 1974; March 24, 1977 (expires March 20, 1979). The 1976-77 negotiations involved a 26 day strike.

AFSCME, over the past several years, has attempted to organize the Professional, Clerical, and Technical employees. The last attempt was in October 1975 when AFSCME lost a representation election of Technical employees.

Unsuccessful attempts to decertify from the union occurred in April 1977 (University Meatcutters) and in May 1977 (employees of printing department).

House Officer's Association

The House Officer's Association represents approximately 600 Interns and Residents at the Medical Center. The Association is an independent labor union which petitioned the Michigan Employment Relations Commission (MERC) for recognition in April 1970. The University challenged that the petitioners were students and not employees under the meaning of the Public Employee Relations Act and, therefore, not covered by the Act. In March 1971, MERC issued a 2-1 decision that a unit of Interns, Residents, and Postdoctoral Scholars was appropriate and ordered a secret ballot election. The University appealed this decision to the Court of Appeals and requested a stay of election. The stay of election was denied and an election was conducted April 21-23, 1971, which resulted in the Association being certified as the bargaining agent. The Court then reversed MERC's decision and the Association appealed this decision to the Michigan Supreme Court. On February 20, 1973, the Supreme Court decided that Interns, Residents, and Postdoctoral Scholars were both students and employees under the Act. The Court further ordered the University to bargain with the Association on employment matters, but excluded bargaining on educational matters. The University entered negotiations with the Association during which Postdoctoral Scholars were excluded from the bargaining unit.

Five contracts have been negotiated with the HOA, Page  38effective: November 13, 1973; October 11, 1974; November 19, 1975; August 31, 1976; August 31, 1977. The current contract expires August 31, 1978.

Graduate Employees' Organization

GEO has represented approximately 2,200 graduate student assistants. The majority of these are in the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts.

In March of 1970, the "University of Michigan Teaching Fellows Union" petitioned MERC for recognition as the bargaining agent for the 1,500 teaching fellows. At a subsequent hearing before the Michigan Employment Relations Commission, the University argued that teaching fellows were not employees within the meaning of the law. The University's position was that teaching fellows were primarily University of Michigan graduate students and not employees. A majority of teaching fellow appointments were given to individuals who were fulfilling a degree requirement by teaching. In such cases the University was not required to pay the individual but, in many instances, chose to do so as a form of financial support. Most teaching fellow appointments were considered an intricate part of the financial support program for graduate students and, in cases where a degree requirement was involved, the fellowships were considered tax exempt. The University further argued that if teaching fellows were to be considered as employees they were part of a larger bargaining unit and, therefore, should not be certified as an appropriate unit by themselves. MERC did not rule on the employment status question but dismissed the teaching fellows' petition on the grounds that if they were employees they were part of a larger unit.

In February of 1974, the Graduate Employees' Organization (GEO) requested recognition by the University as the bargaining agent for all graduate student assistants. GEO set a target date for a strike vote to be taken in the event the University refused to recognize it as the bargaining agent. The University declined to recognize the GEO, but did agree to a consent election if the GEO was able to demonstrate at least a 30 percent showing of interest among the 2,200 graduate student assistants. An election, supervised by Page  39MERC, was held April 1-3, 1974, which was won by GEO.

A first contract was negotiated, becoming effective on March 14, 1975. Salary provisions of the contract were made retroactive to September 1, 1974.

The Graduate Employees' Organization affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers/Michigan Federation of Teachers as Local 3550 in March 1976.

The contract expired August 31, 1976, and a successor contract has not been negotiated; the legal issue of a graduate student's employee status under the Act is now being litigated.

United Auto Workers Local 2001 (Concerned Clericals for Action)

The United Auto Workers (UAW) were elected the collective bargaining representative for 3,300 clerical positions at the University in a run-off election in November of 1974. The run-off was between no union and the UAW due to the fact that no party had received a majority of the votes in a September 1974 election when AFSCME was also on the ballot. Negotiations resulted in a first contract being reached on August 21, 1975, with an expiration date of August 31, 1976. A group of clericals supporting a no union position successfully filed a decertification petition which resulted in a decertification election being conducted by the Michigan Employment Relations Commission on August 11, 1976. The no vote received a majority, and the UAW was decertified with the expiration of the contract on August 31, 1976. Attempts to reorganize a union by the former union supporters have failed to date.

University of Michigan Nurses Association

The Council represents approximately 800 Registered Nurses in various nonsupervisory classifications, almost exclusively working at the Medical Center. The Council is affiliated with the State Organization, Michigan Nurses Association, and with the National Organization, American Page  40Nurses Association.

The MNA tried for a number of years to organize the RNs at the University of Michigan. The first MERC-conducted election was held on December 14, 1967, at which time the nurses voted not to be represented by the Association. In the second election held on January 29, 1975, MNA won the right to represent the nonsupervisory RNs. The unit was certified on February 10, 1975.

Two contracts have been negotiated with the Nurses Association. After one year of bargaining the first labor agreement was signed, effective April 9, 1976 - December 31, 1977. The current contract is effective March 16, 1978 - June 30, 1980, with a single payment of retroactive wages to January 1, 1978, included. The contract established a two-schedule, graduated-step system for payment of wages.