Lawmakers Threaten Universities Extending Contracts for RTW

By: Alyssa Fenske Email
By: Alyssa Fenske Email

LANSING (WILX)-- Some universities and unions have been rushing to sign new long-term contracts before the right-to-work law takes effect.
It's all legal, any contracts signed before March 28th aren't subject to the new law. Meaning workers can still be forced to pay union dues.

Some republicans aren't happy about it saying the universities and unions are just trying to get around the law.

"If this was something normal we wouldn't be asking. Normal is two to three years. Nobodies seen an eight year contract at a university," said Republican House Represenative Tom McMillin.

McMillin's just one of the lawmakers calling the extended contracts fiscally irresponsible, saying they were passed to benefit unions not employees or taxpayers.

Republicans are looking at Wayne State and the University of Michigan in particular.

"Wayne State passed a eight year contract that provides raises over five years or so. There's not necessarily anyone that can point to any particular savings the university has gotten out of extending the contract longer than usual," said Republican Press Secretary Ari Adler.

Even though the contracts are legal, the House Education Appropriations Subcommittee passed a bill cutting their state funding by 15% unless the deals results in 10% savings for the schools.

"This is about looking out for the taxpayers. Making sure the money we're investing that was given to us by taxpayers is being spent wisely and responsibly," said Adler.

But an MSU professor thinks it's small minded.

"We are talking about a few thousand employee's and the penalties are very large. There was not a violation of the law so this would be a retrospective law. They would be penalized for what they have done," said Professor Dale Belman.

A 15% cut wouldn't be small. It would mean 27-million dollars for Wayne State and more than 40-million for U-of-M. That loss could be passed onto students in the form of higher tuition.

Governor Snyder doesn't have a problem with the contracts, if they include savings for the universities.

"In my view if someone has gotten real value in arms length negotiation that's the way the system works. If it was to simply to change things with no substance, to allow people to stay under contract that's a separate question," said Snyder.

The Education Appropriations Subcommittee did hear what the universities had to say before members made their decision. The bill will be presented to the Appropriations Committee before it reaches the House.

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  • by Name Location: Location on Mar 20, 2013 at 09:41 AM
    small minded coming from someone who will lose funding. of course it is small minded ot them.
  • by Name Location: Location on Mar 20, 2013 at 07:46 AM
    Long term promises is horrible in any business. Now if those contracts promise no pay raises for the next eight years, then do it.
  • by Carol Location: 48842 on Mar 20, 2013 at 07:05 AM
    Wow you want to punish these schools and unions for breaking NO laws and doing less damage than you SOBs did in a lame duck session? Oh I get it! It’s because you’re not getting your way and being shown by the people of the state that we don’t agree with or support you in any way, shape or form! The Republican's seem to have more of a mob mentality than they accuse the unions of having. They make me ashamed to say I ever voted Republican. Well this is one more person who will never again vote for you self-serving sneaky SOBs. Go run your mob somewhere else and get the hell out of our state! You've done enough damage!
  • by Name Location: Location on Mar 20, 2013 at 06:44 AM
    eight years contract. The only people who sign contracts that long are long term leases.
  • by Name Location: Location on Mar 20, 2013 at 05:31 AM
    The government has already taken so much money from high education (and then wonders why people are fleeing the state in droves), why take more? And it's funny that the Michigan government can't take any quick action for things that actually need it, but when they can punish these schools, they will jump out of their hindends to pass legislation.
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