Corporatism, Labor, Michigan Republicans — March 31, 2014 at 12:22 pm

Michigan GOP continues its attack on labor, will strip funding for MSU for teaching labor courses


It never ends…

Republicans on the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Higher Education included language in an appropriations bill they voted out of committee last week which will strip Michigan State University of a half million dollars in annual funding if they continue to offer a training program for members of a variety of building trades unions. The legislation strips the funding if they offer any course which includes “participating with any business or union, or group of businesses or unions, in hosting, sponsoring, administering, or in any way facilitating an academy, seminar, class, course, conference, or program that provides instruction, in whole or in part, in techniques for encouraging or discouraging employees in regard to union organizing.”

The penalty for each violation of the provision would be a $500,000 reduction in a university’s state appropriation.

MSU’s School of Human Resources and Labor Relations has administered a program called the Building Trades Academy since 2013. It’s a partnership with North America’s Building Trades Unions, an alliance of 14 unions representing workers in the U.S. and Canada.

This is a blatant effort to diminish any support for organized labor in Michigan. The university offers a variety of classes that teach future businessmen and businesswomen how to deal with organized labor and those are, apparently, A-OK. If you visit this page and search for the term “HRLR” or “labor relations” in the keyword search box, you’ll find a plethora of such classes. For example:

  • HRLR 813 Organizational Behavior for Human Resources and Labor Relations – Behavioral science knowledge at micro- and macro- levels. Individual, group and organizational functioning in human resources and labor relations settings.
  • HRLR 858 Collective Bargaining – Theory and practice of collective bargaining. Wages, benefits, seniority, grievances, arbitration, and labor-management committees. Legal, economic, technological, and historical contexts.
  • LAW 505B Arbitration-Labor – The study of current thinking of arbitrators interpreting collective bargaining agreements including techniques of opinion writing and advocacy before labor arbitrators. The course focuses on collective bargaining agreements, whether an issue is subject to arbitration, timelines for filing an arbitration, the burden of proof, quantum of proof, the concept of discipline and just cause, as well as contract interpretation. Students will participate in mock trials and will be responsible for drafting an arbitration opinion as a class assignment.
  • MGT 418 Labor-Management Relations – Contextual framework of employment relations in union and non-union settings; history and labor law; environmental influences and employer and organized labor strategies; collective bargaining process including negotiations; grievance administration and arbitration; public sector employment relations.

Subcommittee Chair Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker says the course has MSU “actively endorsing and engaging in union activities.” House GOP Rep. Al Pscholka absurdly described it as, “encouraging labor disputes”.

Despite this rhetoric, MSU spokesperson Kent Cassella made it clear that the program, “does not advocate unionization of any company or group of companies; instead, it explores the business case of why the management of a company would voluntarily engage with a union.”

It’s just more hypocritical pro-Big Business, anti-worker, anti-union, anti-collective bargaining power grabbing by Michigan Republicans.

And it’s disgusting.

Oh, one more thing: all of the Republican efforts at union-busting appear to be failing. The Detroit Free Press reported over the weekend that UAW membership was up 2% last year with an increase in membership of nearly 9,000 new members, the fourth consecutive year of increases. UAW President Bob King said in a statement, “We welcome these new members and commend our existing membership who have made organizing and building the union a priority, despite an all-out attack on working people and our right to organize.”

[Photo credit: Anne C. Savage, special to Eclectablog]