LANSING (WWJ) – Can state Republican lawmakers penalize universities for ratifying new contracts before “right-to-work” kicks-in?
A House Republican budget proposal introduced Tuesday would penalize Wayne State University and the University of Michigan a total of nearly $75 million for agreeing to new deals that lawmakers say circumvents the new legislation.
But President of the American Federation of Teachers Michigan David Hecker says “wait a minute,” everything here is legal.
“When these contracts were negotiated this was not a right to work state – it’s not a right to work state today,” said Hecker. “It was legal to negotiate these contracts, these institutions, their leaders, their boards, know what is best for their institution and it was completely and totally legal to do.”
“They should stop threatening the future of this state by threatening to withhold money from higher education the key to the future of this state and they should stop threatening, really, our students by undercutting funding for education.”
“The important point is that right to work is not the law in Michigan, it doesn’t take effect until next week. So because, I guess, some Republican leaders are frustrated over that and they are looking to penalize the universities, penalize the future of the state and penalize our students and that is nothing short of bullying,” Hecker added.
Hecker says the new contracts were bargained in good faith and are completely legal. Right-To-Work goes into effect March 28th.
The Detroit News reports that the House Appropriations higher education subcommittee’s funding bill provides a 2.2 percent overall increase in funding for the state’s 15 public universities, but would penalize Wayne State, U-M and any other university for extending or signing new labor contracts between Dec. 10 and March 28 — when the new law takes effect.