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Mackinac Center for Public Policy
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2012 Senate Bill 971: Limit unionization of grad student research assistants
  1. Introduced by Sen. Randy Richardville (R) on February 15, 2012, to establish that state university graduate students who work as research assistants are not considered government employees for purposes of enrolling them into a union. This relates to a Mackinac Center lawsuit filed on behalf of graduate student research assistants (GSRAs) at the University of Michigan. See also House Bill 4003, which would more broadly prohibit “stealth unionizations,” including an ongoing one involving home heath care aides and the SEIU union.
    • Referred to the Senate Government Operations Committee on February 15, 2012.
      • Reported in the Senate on February 22, 2012, with the recommendation that the amendment be adopted and that the bill then pass.
    • Amendment offered in the Senate on February 22, 2012, to only exempt grad student research assistants from being deemed "employees" subject to unionization if the work they do does not meet an IRS "20 factor test" of employee status. The amendment passed by voice vote in the Senate on February 22, 2012.
  2. Passed 26 to 12 in the Senate on February 22, 2012, to establish that state university graduate students who work as research assistants are not considered government employees for purposes of enrolling them into a union, if their work terms do not meet an IRS "20 factor test" for employee status. This relates to a Mackinac Center lawsuit filed on behalf of graduate student research assistants (GSRAs) at the University of Michigan. See also House Bill 4003, which would more broadly prohibit “stealth unionizations,” including an ongoing one involving home heath care aides and the SEIU union.
    Who Voted "Yes" and Who Voted "No"

  3. Received in the House on February 22, 2012.
    • Referred to the House Government Operations Committee on February 22, 2012.
      • Reported in the House on February 29, 2012, without amendment and with the recommendation that the bill pass.
    • Amendment offered by Rep. Vicki Barnett (D) on March 1, 2012, to leave the decision on whether student research assistants are "employees" who can be forced to pay union dues or fees to the Michigan Employment Relations Commission, which is essentially the status quo without the bill. The amendment failed by voice vote in the House on March 1, 2012.
  4. Passed 62 to 45 in the House on March 1, 2012, to establish that state university graduate students who work as research assistants are not considered government employees for purposes of enrolling them into a union, if their work terms do not meet an IRS "20 factor test" for employee status. This relates to a Mackinac Center lawsuit filed on behalf of graduate student research assistants (GSRAs) at the University of Michigan. See also House Bill 4003, which would more broadly prohibit “stealth unionizations,” including an ongoing one involving home heath care aides and the SEIU union.
    Who Voted "Yes" and Who Voted "No"

Comments

Re: 2012 Senate Bill 971 (Ban “stealth unionization” of graduate student research assistants )  by bethmich on February 27, 2013 
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Re: 2012 Senate Bill 971 (Ban “stealth unionization” of graduate student research assistants )  by perrys on July 30, 2012 
I see the full meaning of that but let's not forget that these students are those in need of support so it's important that they should be labeled on the side that gives them the most financial advantages. I am actually getting ready to start a new degree online program, I am hopeful that these bills will work in favor of the students.


Re: 2012 Senate Bill 971 (Ban “stealth unionization” of graduate student research assistants )  by Admin003 on February 22, 2012 

Senator Richardville asked and was granted unanimous consent to make a statement and moved that the statement be
printed in the Journal.
The motion prevailed.
Senator Richardville’s statement is as follows:
I rise to talk about Senate Bill No. 971 for a moment. Senate Bill No. 971 clarifies that graduate student research
assistants are not employees under the Public Employment Relations Act. This bill will codify, actually, a thirty­year­old ruling
in a long­standing interpretation by the Michigan Employment Relations Commission
According to the Michigan Constitution, the Legislature may enact laws provide for the resolution of disputes concerning
public employees, except those in state classified civil services. So all we are doing is codifying something that has been
a longstanding tradition and interpretation, as I said, for over thirty years.
What this bill does is seek to uphold the faculty­student relationship indicating that these students are students—seems
like common sense would probably understand and dictate that—but the faculty serve as mentors to these students as they
pursue advanced degrees. That is all we are doing, saying, gee, students are students, just like they have been for over
thirty years

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