LANSING - State Representatives Sam Singh (D-East Lansing), Sean McCann (D-Kalamazoo) and Andrew Kandrevas (D-Southgate) demanded today that Republican legislators step back and quit interfering with Michigan universities who are engaging in contract negotiations with their employees. The representatives all serve on the Appropriations Subcommittee on Higher Education which is currently hearing testimony from school officials.
“University administrators are in an ideal position to bargain with their employee groups during this time. The meddling of Republican leaders could be costing Michigan taxpayers an opportunity for real reforms and millions of dollars of cost savings,” said Singh, who is Democratic vice chairman of the subcommittee.
“The so-called ‘right-to- work’ law does not go into effect until the end of March, and schools and businesses have every right to negotiate or renegotiate any contract in their own time-frame,” said McCann. “Republicans legislators have no place inserting themselves into negotiations as universities try to get the best contract that will serve their employees and save taxpayer dollars.”
Republicans have complained about universities negotiating contracts ahead of this new law, which takes effect at the end of March. Several universities have stopped negotiations because Republican legislators have threatened to cut state funding for universities that ratify contracts ahead of the law’s implementation. They took issue with the contract reached legitimately between Wayne State University and its employees, which follows best practices by including a review process for tenured professors who may be having problems and long-term savings of more than $9 million in health care costs. Other schools, most notably Western Michigan University and Ferris State University, have backed away from their contract negotiations after Republicans threatened in the media that they would look at funding reductions for schools that negotiate contracts before the new law takes effect.
“House Republicans are practicing the worst kind of intimidation and, frankly, their actions have no place in a democracy and go against the freedoms that our country is built on,” said Kandrevas. “Republican legislators need to get out of the way and let our universities negotiate for best practices and taxpayer savings so that they can offer our students a world-class, affordable education.”