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August 27, 1968 - Image 45

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1968-08-27

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Tuesday, August 27, 1968


Page Five

Tuesday, August 27, 1968 THE MICHIGAN DAILY


fights for control


of physical



Union"employes hit the picket lines over autonomy fight

Spirit of community'
lost in fall walkout

The growing tide of unioniza-
tion of public employes had to hit,
the University eventually, and
when it did the University was
only half-prepared. An eight-day
strike resulted. Administrators,
students and employe were on
the verge of violence early last fall
when the University announced
acceptance of a conpromise late
in the eighth night of the strike,
only partially healing the breach
between labor and the academic
To the Regents and the admin-
istration, the key issue had al-
ways been University autonomy.
Non academic University em-
ployes, based their demand for
recognition on the Public Em-
ployment Relations Act of 1965,
a law which the Regents saw as
an infringement on their consti-
tutionally guaranteed right to
operate the University without
control by the legislature. The law
gave all public employes the right
to organize and bargain collec-
tively with their employer, but
denied them the right to strike.
It wasn't until November, 1967
that circuit court Judge William
Ager ruled that application of
the University to the bargaining
act, PA 379, was constitutional.
Doubt about the authenticity of
the administration's concer with
and only with autonomy comes
from their other actions on col-
lective bargaining and comments
from then President H a r 1 a n
Speaking before the California
Bar Association in 1966, he warn-
ed that "the old and weary bit-
terness of labor - management
strife should not be carried into
the public service sector or into
a modern university environ-
Pre-Walkout suggestions that
the Regents accept bargaining
until a judicial ruling came-the
stand they eventually accepted-
were countered by administrators'
feeling that any such move would
prejudice their court case against
PA 379.
Another casualty of the walk-
out and near-violence was the
once-cherished conception of the
University as a "community" of
common interest.
From the perspective of the
Regents' offices there may have
seemed to be a community, but a
dishwasher in East Quad certain-
ly felt cut off while on strike.
In June, 1966, four unions pe-
titioned the State Labor Media-
tion Board (SLMB) for repre-
sentation rights at the Univer-
The situation as school began
in September, 1967 was all litiga-
tion. The suit against PA 379 was
still in circuit court, waiting for
briefs to be filed. The SLMB'
board had held hearings but had
Cover Photo
New University President
Robben Wright Fleming is
shown in the cover picture in
his academic robes at his in-
auguration March 11, 1968.
Fleming, 53, was formally in-
vested in office at a colorful
ceremony at Hill Aud. by Re-
gent Robert Briggs.
The cover picture was taken
by Andy Sacks.
..:. ,... TREASRCMST

not taken any conclusive steps to-
ward declaring appropriate units.
Skilled tradesmen, employed in{
the University's plant department,
were unsatisfied about the time
lag in instituting collective bar-
gaining, and their supervisors
knew it. A majority of the work-
ers, skilled workers had formed
the Temporary Trades Council
(TTC) .
Plant Department officials call-'
ed a meeting of all employes to
present their arugements as to
why the PA 379 case was proceed-
ing so slowly.
The TTC took the opportunity
of that meeting to call for a strike
vote, which passed, and the walk-
out began the next morning,
Thursday, Sept. 7.
At that time the workers de-
manded that the Regents with-
draw their suit against PA 379
and that they bargain collectively
with representatives of the:-skilled
tradesmen, The administration r-
fused outright.
The University's employes were
far from alone when they began
their walkout. Pickets were quick-
ly sent out to the five contracted
building sites on campus where
construction wirth over $70 mil-
lion was halted and where the
TTC knew other skilled tradesmen
would refuse to cross thelir lines.
That picketing, which began on
Thursday, lasted till the following
Wednesday and took the TTC into
The day the picket lines were
thrown up, two associations of
general contractors affected by
the picketing went to circuit court
to seek injunctions agains tthe
picketers. The TTC had to show
cause why they should be allowed
to continue picketing. The con-
tractors mnaintained that he pick-
eting was against a third party
to the conflict, which is outlawed
by national labor legislation.
On the second day of the strike,
Friday, TTC offered the Univer-
sity terms on which the employes
would return to work, terms which
the University eventually accepted.
The workers reduced their pre-
vious demand that the PA 379 suit
be dropped and asked only that
collective bargaining be instituted
until a decision was made. Any
contracts negotiated would be void
if it were declared unconstitution-
al. The offer, also directed at the
contractors they were picketing,
included cessation of picketing at
the building sites.
On Monday, some 225 dorm
workers joined the skilled trades-
men. There was some "stock-
piling" of foods in preparation for
emergency shortages and from

Monday deliveries had increasing-
ly difficult in being made, despite
decreasing numbers of strikers.
The student role of replacing
striking workers was more crucial
among the bus drivers than any-
where else.
The entrance of the students
added new militance to the
picketing that took the conflict
to the serge of violence. Super-
visory personnel had taken over
most delivery duties since .drivers
refused to cross picket lines. Cars
and trucks that insited on going
through lines had previously been
let through,; but the students-
mostly SDS members-were much
more adamant.
As the eighth day wore on, ad-
ministrators were changing their
minds about the situation. Some-
time in the afternoon, after meet-!
ing the previous day with union'
representatives, Vice President
and and Chief Financial Advisor
Wilbur Pierpont, Personnel Di-
rector Russel Reister, and then
Director of P 1 a n t Expension
James Brinkerhoff decided to
They were willing to bargain
collectively with the unions pend-
ing a decision on PA 379, but they
maintained the right for disci-
plinary action against the strike
leaders. This last part was the
point of friction but late Thurs-
day night the walkout lea'ders a-
greed to it, and by Friday morn-
ing almost all employes were back
at work.
All action since then has only
been legalistic cleaning up opera-
tions. Two weeks after the walk-
out ended, SLMB announced that
at least two separate bargaining
units-the heating plant and the
skilled tradesmen-would be set
up. That covered 310 tmployes,
with over 290 more yet to be
classified by units.
Judge William Ager announced
a final decision on the University
and PA 379, holding that it was
constitutional and not an in-
fringement of autonomy.
The administration chose to
appeal Ager's November decision
- that PA 379 was constituional
-at the prompting of Vice Presi-
dent Pierpont. President Robben
Fleming. a former labor media-
tor, is reportedly opposed to such
an appeal, but the Regents voted
for appeal anyway.
Even if the University won in
the Supreme Court any attempt
to eliminate unions would be
solidly entrenched by the time
a final decision was reached and
surely wocld result in the "old
and weary bitterness of labor-
management strife and warfare
...." with the now strong unions.

The Regents have always seen
themselves as guardians of the
independent, inquisitive, a n d
academically free spirit which
they believe is personified by the
To perpetuate this spirit, they
have continually defended the
University from any influence
they feel could possibly be dam-
So, when the legislature passed
Public Act 124 in 1965, the Re-
gents declared it was an in-
fringement on the University's
autonomy and filed suit in the
courts challenging the constitu-
tionality of the statute.
PA 124 requires the State
Budget Director to choose the
architect for state-financed Uni-
versity buildings. Under the act,
all plans for new buildings would
have to be submitted to the Joint
Senate. - House Committee fon
Capital Outlay for approval.'
The University's legal counsel
advised the Regents that to ac-
cept funds under the provisions
of the act would endanger the
court case. So, from the time of
the passage of the statute until
this March, the University began
only one new construction pro-
ject - the new Dental School,
funds for which were appropri-
ated under a special act.
But in September 1967, the
University consolidated its legal
efforts with Wayne State Univer-
sity and Michigan State Univer-
sity under a new legal counsel
who advised that schools which
accepting the sorely needed funds
under the provisions of the act
would not, indeed, hurt their cases,
SSo in March, when the Senate
Appropriations Committee was
planning capital outlay for the
present fiscal year, the Univer-
sity agreed to accept funds to
begin construction of a new
Modern Languages Building.
The plans for the structure -
originally drawn up by a private,
University - hired architectural
firm before PA 124 was law-
must still be approved by the
Senate-House committee, and the
architect himself must be ap-
proved by the State Budget Di-
But University offilals are con-
fident that both will be'approved,
and that construction of the six-
or seven-story building .on the
present parking lot behind Hill
Aud. will begin before next July.
In fact, plans are already being
made to accept funds for ad-
ditional constructiorf, including
an architectural building on North
Hopefully, the new construction
will be able to at least keep pace
with the enrollment boom the
University has been undergoing
during the past several years
The University is already far
behind in needed construction. To
stave off a major space crisis dur-
ing the past few years, the school
has resorted to using other funds
to initiate construction and has
converted several formerly non-
academic structures into desper-
ately needed literary college space.
For example, the University has
just completed construction of a
new Administration Building so

Many legislators feel that since
the University is a state-support-
ed, constitutionally recognized in-
stitution,' they can expect it to
serve primarily in-state students.
University administrators have
not always felt this was true. For
example, in the academic year
1927-28 the student body was more
than 45 per cent out-of-state
Under continual pressure from
Lansing, the percentage of out-
of-state students decreased to 25
per cent by 1966. But the legis-
lature was still not satisfied.
So, in appropriating the Uni-
versity's 1966-67 operating funds
(in Public\Act 240) the legislature
formalized their complaints by
placing a statutory limitation on
the percentage of out-of-state
PA 240-which also included re-
strictions on the way in which the
University may spend state ap-
propriations-barred the Univer-
sity from increasing the percent-
age of out-of-state students. For
each student over the limit, t he
University was to be penalized
The Regents, of course, did not
sit idly by when the legislature
took this action. Instead, they
decided to take the matter before
th courts, claiming the legislature
had infringed in the University'
constitutionally guaranteed auto-
But court action is traditional-
ly slower than the speed with
which new legislation is passed,
And while the question of PA 240
awaits ajudication in Ingham
County Circuit Court, the legisla-
ture (as we go to press) is about
to pass an even stricter limitation
on out-of-state enrollment.
The new provision, which was
assured success when it appeared
in both the House and Senate ver-
sions of the 1968-69 appropriations
bill, will bar the University from
either increasing the percentage
or the number of out-of-state
With the current boom in enroll-
ment, the effect of this legislation
will be to reduce the percentage
of out-of-state students below 20
per cent, at which point the law
no longer applies.

Instead of applying the $600 per
student penalty, the new law will
make the limitation a condition
of the appropriation, and, pre-
sumably, the entire amount could
be withheld if the University does
not comply.
So as the suit hobbles through
the courts, at best the immediate
effect of the law will be to reduce
the percentage of out-of-state
students at the University.
Other section of PA 240 which
the University (along with Mich-
igan State University and Wayne
State University) are challenging
include :
-a provision which bars the
University from beginning new
extensions away from either the
Ann Arbor, Flint or Dearborn
-a provision which bars the
University from using the funds
of the act (general operating
funds) for the construction of
-a provision which bars the
University from using the funds
appropriated in the act to estab-
lish special programs or expand
existing programs which are bey-
ond the scope of the programs
of the agency already established
and recognized by the state legis-
Each of these provisions is re-
asserted in the new appropriations

that the former headquarters of
President Fleming, the vi.-,e presi-
dent and related offices (in the
present LSA Building) may be
used for literary college space.
Another example of how the
Universit has tried to circumvent
accepting funds under PA 124 is
the conversion this year of two
houses in West Quadrangie to fac-
ulty offices. Indeed, the entire
quad is slated for conversion with-
in the next two years.
Hopefully, the Universitys
PA, 240

enrollment plans


space problems will soon return to
manageable proportions with the
renewed influx of state capital
outlay funds.
But, clearly the University has
lost three valuable years in the
race to keep facilities even with
And now that the University
is again accepting funds for con-
struction, the court suit against
PA 124, presently awaiting action
in Ingham County Circuit Court,
seems painfully irrelevant.

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a'r" r:
((yy'' EE titi



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