labor unions

Aaron Selbig

Dozens of people marched in Traverse City Thursday night in support of nurses at Munson Medical Center. The nurses are bargaining with hospital management for their first labor contract.

Nurses and their supporters marched along Division Street wearing red T-shirts and waving signs with slogans like “Patients Over Profits” and “Safe Staffing Saves Lives.”

Munson Healthcare

Nurses have filed charges against one of northern Michigan’s largest hospitals. The Michigan Nurses Association says Munson Medical Center in Traverse City is not operating in “good faith” during contract negotiations.

 

Last year, around a thousand nurses at Munson Medical Center unionized and have been working toward a new contract. James Walker is a Munson nurse and he says they unionized for a number of reasons.

The Supreme Court issued a landmark decision Wednesday in the case Janus v. the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, Council 31. AFSCME is the largest public sector union in the country.

In a 5-4 decision, the conservative majority held that public sector workers who are represented by unions cannot be required to pay any union dues.

Morgan Springer

Last month, a crane tipped over at a large construction project at St. Marys Cement Plant in Charlevoix. No one was hurt, but a disagreement has unfolded between people who think the incident is a fluke and people who say it’s one of many safety issues.

Northwestern Michigan College

Faculty at Northwestern Michigan College could again report directly to the college board at regular meetings, according to the NMC administration. But the faculty says the offer comes with too many restrictions.

The faculty report agenda item has been a point of contention since 2007. That’s when the college board stopped hearing directly from teachers at its monthly meeting. After that, faculty could speak at board meetings for 3 minutes periods during the public comment section of the agenda.

Peter Payette

 

Northwestern Michigan College will combine the humanities and social science departments into a single department. The reorganization will mean the elimination of one academic chair position and an office manager.

NMC is trying to eliminate a $1.9 million gap in the coming fiscal year.

Vice President Steven Siciliano said the change would not reduce any humanities programs.

“It is simply an administrative change in order to find some economies for the sake of the budget,” he said.

Peter Payette

Instructors at Northwestern Michigan College say union negotiations are at an impasse, and at issue is how much say the faculty has in how the college operates.

The faculty formed a union last year and is negotiating its first contract.

Members voiced their frustration on Monday night at a meeting of the board of trustees.

A federal appeals court says a northern Michigan Indian tribe does not get to set its own labor rules at the casino it operates near Manistee.

The Little River Band of Ottawa Indians claimed tribal sovereignty allowed it to adopt its own laws that ban strikes and discourage union organizing by casino employees. The Teamsters challenged the tribal act, and the union won before the National Labor Relations Board.

But the Little River Band says the board has no jurisdiction in this instance.

Michigan saw the third highest drop in union membership in the nation last year, according the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

It says membership dropped from 16.3 percent to 14.5 percent in 2014 – the first full year Michigan’s right-to-work law was in effect. The law made it illegal to require workers to pay union dues as a condition of employment.

The Michigan Supreme Court will decide later this year whether the right-to-work law applies to state employee unions. The court just heard the legal challenge to the law filed by state employee unions. They say the state civil service authority supersedes the law adopted by the Legislature in 2012.

William Weirtheimer is a union attorney. He says it’s in the Michigan Constitution – the state Civil Service Commission is in charge of civil service workers.

In the 1970s, at the height of its power, the United Auto Workers had more than 1.5 million members. Today it has fewer than 400,000. Some of the reasons behind that include an aging union workforce.

But it’s not just the UAW. As many in the labor movement turn to retirement, unions are looking to rebuild and reinvent with younger members.

Roland Zullo is with the Institute for Research on Labor, Employment and the Economy at the University of Michigan.

Zullo said that job insecurity is the main reason why young people are not ready to join unions.