Lawmakers Concerned About Anti-Union Campaign at MSU, Reports Graduate Employee Union

Apr 02, 2001, 01:00 ET from Graduate Employee Union

    EAST LANSING, Mich., April 2 /PRNewswire/ -- A bi-partisan group of more
 than 25 Michigan legislators has expressed strong concern that the
 administration of Michigan State University is waging an anti-union campaign
 against its graduate teaching assistants who will be voting in a union
 representation election on April 19 and 20.  Today the legislators sent a
 letter to MSU President Peter McPherson expressing these concerns, reports the
 Graduate Employee Union.
     "We're writing to express our displeasure at the MSU Administration's
 decision to conduct an anti-union campaign against its graduate student
 employees," the letter begins.  "We strongly believe that it is inappropriate
 for the Administration, as a public employer, to take sides in the upcoming
 union representation election.  We urge you to cease these efforts
 immediately."  The Administration's actions "tarnish the spirit of the law
 prohibiting intimidation in union elections," the letter says.
     In the letter to MSU President Peter McPherson, the state senators and
 representatives have criticized the school's tactic of holding department
 meetings to influence votes, as well as an anti-union website set up by the
 administration.  "MSU is a great university with intelligent and committed
 teaching assistants.  The Administration should not be creating an uneven
 playing field by using its power to influence votes," said State
 Representative Gilda Jacobs (D-Huntington Woods).  "These teaching assistants
 can study the issues and make a decision without the Administration's undue
 influence."
     "In the very least, it is entirely inappropriate to use taxpayer money to
 work against a union organizing drive, and that is what the MSU Administration
 is apparently doing," commented State Senator Kenneth DeBeaussaert
 (D-New Baltimore).
     Members of the Graduate Employee Union have welcomed the action by
 lawmakers.  "We're grateful that our elected representatives have taken this
 stand," said Sally Theran, a spokesperson for the organization.  "We want a
 fair election, and it's wrong for the dean to use her power in this way.  It's
 wrong for the administration to circulate misinformation."  Approximately two-
 thirds of MSU Teaching Assistants (TAs) and administrative Graduate Assistants
 (GAs) are members of the union.
     The MSU administration's efforts to influence the vote are being led by
 Dean Karen Klomparens, Dean of the graduate program.
     "In the past, Dean Klomparens has been seen as an advocate for graduate
 students," said GEU President Christopher Oliver.  "Unfortunately, the
 'information' she claims to provide in these meetings is misinformation.  It
 may seem neutral, but it's prejudicial."
     Teaching Assistants have organized unions at the University of Michigan
 and Wayne State University, and the experience is that relationships are
 enhanced through collective bargaining.  Graduate employees at the University
 of Michigan unionized in 1974.
     GEU is affiliated with the Michigan Federation of Teachers and School
 Related Personnel, AFT, AFL-CIO.
 
 

SOURCE Graduate Employee Union
    EAST LANSING, Mich., April 2 /PRNewswire/ -- A bi-partisan group of more
 than 25 Michigan legislators has expressed strong concern that the
 administration of Michigan State University is waging an anti-union campaign
 against its graduate teaching assistants who will be voting in a union
 representation election on April 19 and 20.  Today the legislators sent a
 letter to MSU President Peter McPherson expressing these concerns, reports the
 Graduate Employee Union.
     "We're writing to express our displeasure at the MSU Administration's
 decision to conduct an anti-union campaign against its graduate student
 employees," the letter begins.  "We strongly believe that it is inappropriate
 for the Administration, as a public employer, to take sides in the upcoming
 union representation election.  We urge you to cease these efforts
 immediately."  The Administration's actions "tarnish the spirit of the law
 prohibiting intimidation in union elections," the letter says.
     In the letter to MSU President Peter McPherson, the state senators and
 representatives have criticized the school's tactic of holding department
 meetings to influence votes, as well as an anti-union website set up by the
 administration.  "MSU is a great university with intelligent and committed
 teaching assistants.  The Administration should not be creating an uneven
 playing field by using its power to influence votes," said State
 Representative Gilda Jacobs (D-Huntington Woods).  "These teaching assistants
 can study the issues and make a decision without the Administration's undue
 influence."
     "In the very least, it is entirely inappropriate to use taxpayer money to
 work against a union organizing drive, and that is what the MSU Administration
 is apparently doing," commented State Senator Kenneth DeBeaussaert
 (D-New Baltimore).
     Members of the Graduate Employee Union have welcomed the action by
 lawmakers.  "We're grateful that our elected representatives have taken this
 stand," said Sally Theran, a spokesperson for the organization.  "We want a
 fair election, and it's wrong for the dean to use her power in this way.  It's
 wrong for the administration to circulate misinformation."  Approximately two-
 thirds of MSU Teaching Assistants (TAs) and administrative Graduate Assistants
 (GAs) are members of the union.
     The MSU administration's efforts to influence the vote are being led by
 Dean Karen Klomparens, Dean of the graduate program.
     "In the past, Dean Klomparens has been seen as an advocate for graduate
 students," said GEU President Christopher Oliver.  "Unfortunately, the
 'information' she claims to provide in these meetings is misinformation.  It
 may seem neutral, but it's prejudicial."
     Teaching Assistants have organized unions at the University of Michigan
 and Wayne State University, and the experience is that relationships are
 enhanced through collective bargaining.  Graduate employees at the University
 of Michigan unionized in 1974.
     GEU is affiliated with the Michigan Federation of Teachers and School
 Related Personnel, AFT, AFL-CIO.
 
 SOURCE  Graduate Employee Union