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Historic Michigan Campaign Under Way

February 3, 2012
For more information, please contact Cary Nelson

AAUP President Cary Nelson issued the following statement today:

A historic campaign is under way by University of Michigan graduate research assistants to organize for collective bargaining. A victory for this high profile group of academic employees would be a victory for every cohort of unrepresented research assistants across the country.

Wherever research assistants are organized, they enjoy the rise in standards of treatment that perhaps no other group of graduate employees need so badly. Teaching assistants often benefit from department-wide standards. An individual research assistant, on the other hand, may suffer under unfair working conditions imposed by one well-meaning but poorly informed faculty member. The benefits of having a unionin such situations are immense. Not only does it help hundreds of research assistants on each campus: it also creates a climate of good workplace standards that benefits recruitment, retention, and the overall quality of campus life.

Some may fear that union contracts will mandate wage or benefit increases not built into multi-year government or industry contracts, but the university can easily set aside sufficient funds to cover such typically modest increases.

The University of Michigan Board of Regents has affirmed the right of research assistants to organize, so it is critically important that neither faculty members nor administrators seek to undermine the campaign.

The national AAUP joins our Michigan State Conference in endorsing this campaign. We are eager to offer any help to make it a success.

The American Association of University Professors is a nonprofit charitable and educational organization that promotes academic freedom by supporting tenure, academic due process, shared governance and standards of quality in higher education. The AAUP has over 47,000 members at colleges and universities throughout the United States

Media Contact: 
Cary Nelson
Publication Date: 
Friday, February 3, 2012