LANSING (WWJ/AP) – The Republican-led Michigan Senate has approved a bill that would block unionization efforts by graduate student research assistants at public universities.

The measure was passed Wednesday by a 26-12 vote along party lines. The legislation advances to the Republican-led House.

The legislation specifies that graduate student research assistants would be exempted from the definition of a public employee as related to collective bargaining rights.

The measure comes as University of Michigan graduate research assistants attempt to unionize. Jennifer Dibbern said she lost her research funding and was kicked out of her academic program at the Ann Arbor school after supporting efforts to unionize graduate student research assistants.

“I lost my job because I was openly supportive of the union … They are essentially prohibiting me from a career in my chosen field,” said Dibbern.

That case is pending before an administrative judge after the Michigan Employment Relations Commission last year reaffirmed a 1981 decision that bars research assistants from banding together.

Republicans say the legislation simply puts those decisions into law. Democrats say the proposal undermines collective bargaining rights.

TM and © Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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