Regents approve framework for union recognition


The University of Michigan will no longer require a state-supervised election for new labor unions to be recognized, under a Board of Regents resolution introduced and approved June 25 by a 6-1 vote.

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Instead, new labor unions will be recognized by the university “upon a showing of majority support of the employees in the bargaining unit (a practice commonly referred to as ‘card check’),” according to the resolution proposed by Regent Mark Bernstein. Regent Ron Weiser voted against the measure.

In proposing the resolution, Bernstein said this issue had been discussed by the board since February and he thanked his colleagues for sharing their views. He recognized that use of “card check” could be controversial, but he noted it has been used for decades. He said he believed adopting a written framework for union representation would benefit workers and improve university-employee relations.

President Mark Schlissel said he strongly supports the right of U-M employees to decide whether or not to organize or join a union. He said his greatest concern with the resolution was with the card check approach to determine interest because, “there is no privacy involved with a card check. Organizers and co-workers know how each person voted or whether they chose not to vote,” Schlissel said.

Union representation elections are supervised by the Michigan Employment Relations Commission.

The resolution, entitled “Board resolution regarding employer neutrality, cooperative determination and recognition of bargaining units, and notification of agreement,” spells out how the university will approach the formation of new labor unions among university employees.

There currently is an effort at Michigan Medicine to form a union to represent about 350 physician assistants.

Weiser offered an amendment to require a secret-ballot vote on creating a new union, but his amendment failed for lack of a second.


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