Michigan faculty unions may escape right-to-work law

Teachers unions throughout Michigan are privately exploring options for delaying implementation of the state’s recently approved right-to-work law.

The law, which was passed late last year by a Republican legislature and approved by Republican Gov. Rick Snyder, weakens unions by giving employees the option not to join them. But it doesn’t take effect until March 27, giving unions time to negotiate new contracts that will require their members to keep paying dues for years to come.

And since university administrators tend to agree with the labor movement, it is believed that faculty unions at Michigan’s public colleges are likely to get them to agree to contract negotiations. Secret discussions between union representatives and administrators have already taken place at Michigan State University, according to the Battle Creek Enquirer.

“Indeed, all union leadership on campus and otherwise are discussing, options, strategies, etc.,” said Penny Gardner, president of MSU’s Union of Non-Tenure-track Faculty, in a statement.

A university spokesperson declined to comment.

Unions at Western Michigan University and Wayne State University are also in talks to extend current union contracts before right-to-work takes effect.

State Republicans oppose the tactic, and have threatened to cut funding to universities that try to skirt right-to-work.

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