Judge denies striking University of Michigan workers’ demand to return to their jobs

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ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Striking graduate teachers at the University of Michigan do not have to return to the classroom yet, a Washtenaw County Court judge ruled Tuesday, April 4.

Judge Carol Kuhnke denied the university’s emergency order to order an end to the alumni employee organization’s strike that began March 29.

In its decision on Tuesday, it said the union, which is made up of about 2,200 school alumni and staff assistants, may continue to strike while Konke hears both sides argue the legality of the strike.

Conke agreed with the union that no irreparable damage had been done at this time.

“I will give the university a chance to prove it at an evidentiary hearing,” she said.

Konke said both the university and the union will enter a hearing in Washtenaw County Circuit Court at 5 p.m. on Monday, April 10.

University attorney Craig Schwartz has argued that the strike is causing harm through many dismissals, which will have secondary effects such as disrupting final exams, delaying grades, and in some cases affecting student employment after graduation.

“This is not a strike at the beginning of the year where things can be made up,” Schwartz said. This is a three-week strike until the end of the semester. It causes irreparable harm.”

Read more: Teacher’s strike forces flexible learning for University of Michigan students

Union attorney Mark Cousins ​​argued that the university suffers from “schizophrenia,” because at the same time it argues that canceling a class causes harm to students, university emails still don’t get cancelled.

“The irony of this measure is that if 2,200 college teachers can shut down the university and damage its reputation, why shouldn’t they get a living wage?” Cousins ​​said.

While Tuesday’s ruling came as no surprise to union president Jared Eno, he said he was disappointed that the university had taken the contract bargaining to court.

“I was shocked that the university argued that the only way to end this and get a contract was for a judge to force us back to work,” he said. “The university can terminate this at any time by agreeing to pay graduate workers a living wage.”

University spokesman Rick Fitzgerald said the university has an opportunity to prove harm caused by the strike at Monday’s hearing.

“We look forward to the hearing on Monday, as well as the ongoing progress of the negotiating teams.”

Jared Eno, president of the University of Michigan alumni organization, protests in front of the Washtenaw County Courthouse in Ann Arbor as part of the union strike. UM and GEO in court on Tuesday, April 4.

Union negotiation for higher salaries and various other measures. The complete platform here. The current university and union collective bargaining agreement expires on May 1.

Schwartz argued that the union decided to strike on issues outside of mandatory bargaining outside of compensation and workplace conditions. There must be no agreement between the union and the organization due to issues that do not directly affect wages, working hours or working conditions, According to the National Labor Relations Board.

Those “non-mandatory” issues are the union calling for an unarmed, non-police response program separate from university police, banning federal agents from campus and compensating social work students for working outside internships, Schwartz said.

If federal agents are banned from campuses, Schwartz said, not only is the action outside the scope of mandatory bargaining, but it’s also potentially illegal.

Cousins ​​acknowledged that these actions were “unusual”, but that they were about safety and conditions in the workplace.

“They are smart and creative and deal with problems around union membership and safety,” he said.

The university also argues that the union violated its previous contract by striking in defiance of the no-strike clause.

“The collective bargaining agreement is in full effect today, with a contractual promise from Jio that there will be no strikes or work stoppages until May 1,” Schwartz said.

Since the union does not consider alternatives to bargaining since the league does not budge on most actions, the no-strike clause can be ignored, Cousins ​​said.

“Breaking a contract justifies the other,” he said.

Both the university and the union have filed several charges of unfair labor practices against each other with the Michigan Labor Relations Commission. An administrative judge is deliberating on these charges, Cousins ​​said, so a Washtenaw County court order is unnecessary.

Citing past case law, Cousens said issues between the federation and the league should be resolved at the negotiating table rather than in court.

“The courts have recognized that the parties have to solve the problems themselves,” he said.

Read more Ann Arbor news:

The University of Michigan said the alumni workers on strike this week were not being paid

The University of Michigan is filing lawsuits demanding striking alumni return to classes

High wages are the main issue in the University of Michigan graduate professors’ strike