Skip to comments.Union Drops Attempt to Stop Vote on Decertification
Posted on 02/16/2015 5:58:53 AM PST by MichCapCon
The Michigan Education Association has dropped an unfair labor practices complaint against Grand Rapids Community College, and also dropped its request for suspension of an election to decertify a union local which represents college secretaries.
The decertification vote was authorized when one-third of the nearly 100 members of the Grand Rapids Community College Education Support Professionals signed a petition requesting it. The MEA filed its complaint and request a few weeks later.
Supporters of the election say time was of the essence because the local bargaining units contract expires June 30 and contract negotiations are set to begin April 1. They want to determine if the MEA is still a good fit for their workplace, or whether the employees would be better off forming their own independent union. Members complained that under the MEA they were paying more and getting less.
A union member speaking on behalf of the MEA says the union dropped the complaint because it didnt want the local to miss a crucial deadline for negotiating a new contract. She also cited new concerns that the college may eliminate some positions.
The reason we agreed for [the] MEA to withdraw the petition was the anticipation of a long, drawn out appeal process, Debra Stout said. Our contract expires on June 30, 2015 and we would not be able to negotiate until the unfair labor practice was settled.
Supporters of union decertification arent convinced that this is why the MEA filed the complaint.
We would have had the election and months of lead time to prepare for negotiations for our new contract ... no matter who the (union) representative was, said election supporter and union member Penni Weninger. But [the] MEA, whom we pay to represent us, objected to the election, filed the unfair labor practices complaint against the college for answering our questions, stalled and created divides in our membership, while continuing to collect dues for seven months.
In its complaint filing, the MEA claimed the college engaged in unlawful assistance to a rival independent union. It is not clear if the MEA filed the charge with the full support of the union local's board. A hearing before an administrative law judge was scheduled for Feb. 5 and 6, but on Feb. 4 Judge Travis Calderwood canceled the hearing.
Election supporters are hopeful a decertification election will be held in the next month. Given the MEAs interest in trying to suspend the vote, workers who want to replace the union say they plan to ask the Michigan Employment Relations Commission to oversee an election held on campus, rather than one with mail-in ballots.
A MERC election officer will begin working with the parties when the date and manner of the election will be discussed. We anticipate that this will be a consent election whereby all the terms surrounding the election will be mutually agreed upon, said MERC spokesperson, Jason Moon. He did not answer a question asking if MERC would set a deadline to forestall MEA delay tactics.
If it goes forward this would be the second attempt by a union local in higher education to decertify the MEA. Last year, some 300 clerical, office and technical workers at Grand Valley State University voted to decertify the MEA and form their own union. The replacement union successfully negotiated a new contract for its members last year.
GRCC is pleased that it will not be required to expend public dollars in a ULP (unfair labor practices) hearing and that the election can move forward, said Leah Nixon, director of communications for Grand Rapids Community College. The college will comply with labor law and remain neutral in the upcoming election proceedings.
None of the unions I belonged to EVER helped me. They took my money and said, when I had a complaint, “Don’t rock the boat.”
So union decertification is the membership kicking their union to the curb? Wow! I didn’t know you could do that. It seems like once a union gets its foot into the door it practically takes an act of God to shoo them away.
Union Membership Rate Falls to 100-Year Low
New information from the federal government suggests workers interest in unions continues to fall, with union membership reaching its lowest rate in 100 years.
According to data released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics today, the union membership rate fell to 11.1 percent, with just 14.6 million wage and salaried workers maintaining membership.
In 2013, the union membership rate was 0.2 percentage points higher, at 11.3 percent.
The rate of union membership has been on a steady decline over the past three decades. It grew slightly from 12.1 percent in 2007 to 12.4 percent in 2008. During President Obamas first year in office, however, it fell once more.
James Sherk, a labor economics policy economist at The Heritage Foundation, told The Daily Signal that the drop in the rate of union membership can likely be attributed to the antiquated union model.
Theyre selling a product that hasnt changed that much since the 1930s when Americas labor laws were founded, he said. Todays workers simply arent that interested in purchasing what unions have to sell.
Sherk said that unions have failed to modernize over time and noted that workers are moving away from joining because their contracts are no longer relevant.
In about 1977 I was in HR in an organization...our Mechanics union decertified...it was a royal battle though....Tire slashing of Caterpillar equipment...we presented facts to union members...the Financials of the local union which showed union management salaries probably finally made the difference.
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