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September 09, 1971 - Image 35

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1971-09-9

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Thursday, Sept6mber 9, 1971

THE MICHIGAN DAILY

Page Three

Thursday, Sept~mber 9, 1971 THE MICHIGAN DAILY Page Three

'U

labor

relations:

The

year

of

the

walkout

Faces of the APSCME strike

By SARA FITZGERALD
Supplement Co-editor
In contrast to previous years,
it was not the students wh: near-
ly closed the University last year,
but University employes.
For two days in January,
2,700 workers staged a .walk-out
which, by cutting off food sup-
plies and causing severe sanita-
tion problems, nearly forced Uni-
versity officials to call cff classes
and "send the students home."
But, in many ways, the strike
by Local 1583 of the American
Federation of State, Counry, and
Municipal Employes +AFSCME t
was more than a display of cis-
content which had been browmrg
for two years.
It was also symptomatic of the
problems inherent in the some-
what shaky relationship betveen
public employes and their "boss,"
the University.
Until 1965 and the passage of a
state law' permitting unionization
of public employes, the Univer-
sity did not have to bargain col-
lectively with its workers.
Since then, the University has
continually fought union .zation
attempts by the workers-at-
tempts which it knew would lead
to a greater drain on the Univer-
sity's already tight budget.
As the University's staff size
has grown to over 20,000 work-
ers, the University has difficulty
giving adequate attention to the
needs of its diverse groups of
workers. Meanwhile, the Univer-
sity's budget also sets priorities
on areas such as faculty salaries,
while the rest of the employes
feel that their interests are being
neglected.
Thus employe/employer ten-
sion exists not only between the
University and the largest union,
AFSCME, but also several
groups which attempted to union-
ize over the past year, including
the Interns and Residents Asso-
ciation and the Pharmacists' As-
sociation.
Two years ago, when AFSCME
and two smaller blue collar
unions appeared on campus, the
unions were more concerned wi.h
obtaining recognition as bargaii-
ing units than with writing their
contracts.
Since then, the 100-page agree-
ment between AFSCME and the
University had seemed increas-
ingly "unworkable," as a union
official described it, both in the
wage levels it stipulated and in

As negotiations began last Oc-
tober, worker dissatisfac ion
centered on the level of wages
the union members received. Be-
fore the strike, the average wage
for AFSCME members was about
$2.69 an hour, according to
Charles McCracken, union presi-
dent. More than 77 per cent of

The University's offer was
made, not only because of bul-
getary considerations, but also In
the knowledge that any large
wage increase for AFSCME
would be followed by demands
for similar hikes in salaries and
benefits by other members of
the University community--par-

;,: When it comes to University
money matters, the person with
the most experience and influence
is WILBUR PIERPONT, vice pres-
ident and chief financial officer.
Pierpont has his finger in almost
every administrative pie that con-
cerns University financing, and a
few that don't.
Pierpont's main concern, natur-
ally, is seeing that the University
remains solvent and the bills and
salaries get paid in a gigantic bu-
reaucracy through which nearly
$250,000 flows annually.
After 21 years handling Univer-
sity finances, Pierpont has been in
office longer than any other ad-
ministrator. His power and influ-
ence are second only to President
Fleming's. Aloof and protective of
his power base, he has seldom been
Willr rierpolt the subject of student trust.
.;;:.::.*; "::.:.::;":s:

the rights it guaranteed tne cents an hour the first year of the
workers. contract and 16 cents the next.

circuit court judge who heard the
case. Both sides submitted to
fact-finding sessions, also pro-
vided for by state law, during
which an agreement was event-
ually reached-a contract with
many language changes favor-
able to the union, but with rela-
tively small wage increases.
The strike itself was an abor-
tive enterprise. The wave of
union militancy subsided in the
below-freezing January tempera-
tures as only a small percentage
of the union members partici-
pated in picketing.
A small student coalition or-
ganized to support the workers
also bogged down. Part of the
problem ,was the lack of anything
to do--the union asked the stu-
dents not to join picket lines but
to provide pressure on the Uri-
versity by demanding services
and "eating dormitory food like
hell."
However, the settlement reach-
ed in February does not mear
that the University has seen the
last of AFSCME. For the work-
ers seemed dissatisfied with the
contract, approving it by only a;
small margin. And three years
from now, when the contract
runs out, the University may
once again be faced with a situa-
tion comparable to this past
year's.
While the University was ne-
gotiating a contract with one of
the "older" unions (as if three
years can be considered old), it
was also fighting anionization
attempts - this time by two
groups of professional workers.
First to petition the Michigan
Employment Relations Commis-
sion (MERC) for designation as a
bargaining unit was the Internc
and Residents Association (IRA),
which represented 500 University
Hospital interns and eesidents.
However, the University op-
posed the formation of the union.
contending throughout hearings
with MERC that the interns were
hired as students and not as pro-
fessional workers.
The issue was so crucial to
administrators that they filed an
appeal in the Michigan courts,
attempting to overrule the MERC
decision which gave the interns
the right to unionize.
The 2-1 split decision, adminis-
trators said, "invited" the ap-
peal. Although the case still was
not resolved by late May, the
University became the first in-
stitution in the country to have an
intern's union.

HEW DISPUTE:

Job sexism and

the

IT.

Answering the charges

(Continued from Page 1)
HEW, although it crystallized
the issue and forced the Univer-
sity to take steps towards rectify-
ing the situation, is legally limit-
ed to regulating employment
practices of institutions to which
the government grants funds.
Therefore, issues such as pos-
sible sexism in admission prac-
tices at the University fall out-
side the realm of HEW.
An example of this specific
distinction is the problem of

while the University's projected
average for 1073-74 was only 6.6
per cent.
Other figures in the Univer-
sity's timetables have been
equally criticized.. For example,
of a total 1970-71 instructional
staff (not including teaching fel-
lows) of 3,015, women numbered
411. The University projects a
3,162 person instructional staff
in 1973-74, with 550 women.
In one administration state-
ment, the University said that

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When HEW said the University
was guilty of sex discrimination
in employment last December,
FEDELE FAURI, vice president
for state relations and planning, ti
was given part of the job of set-
ting. things aright. Though he's
had some experience in similar
fields as dean of the University's
school of social work, he is saddled
with a virtually impossible task of
stopping University sexism.
His main concern is trying to get
more money for the University
from the state Legislature at a
time when the state is cutting all
requests for money drastically.
He's spent a lot of his first year at
his new post going back and forth
to Lansing and city governments,
in an often futile attempt at find-
ing solutions to the University's.
budget problems.

The Commission included ten
women and two men handpick-
ed by the administration. Bar-
bara Newell, special assistant
to President Robben Fleming,
was appointed chairwoman; and
Fedele Fauri, vice president for
state relations and planning
was appointed to work with the
Commission.
However, when the goals and
timetables were formulated,
Commission members did not see
them until the day after they
were sent to HEW.
According to Fauri, there was
not enough time to consult with
the Commission, but its mem-'
bers will be involved "next
time."
The fledging Women's C o m -
mission has had many other
problems. Set up to oversee work
connected with the HEW em-
ployment of women issues, the
Commission's powers are flex-
ible, yet limited by the fact that
it is presently predominantly an
administration-appointed Com-
mission.
The powers of the commission,
too, are somewhat vague. The
University originally set t h e
commission up without a budget,
and since then has been grant-
ing piecemeal allocations for
specific Commisison projects as
they are proposed. Commission
members meet on office time,
but any- extra work they do,
they are not paid for.
As the Commission continues
to develop its role, several mem-
bers intend to try to expand the
activities to include aspects of
sexism outside the immediate
. bounds of the HEW issue, such
as the issue of sexism in ad-
miss.ons.
Thus, although the Univer-
sity has always pointed to its
dedication to the cause of equal
opportunity for women, it seems
that positive steps towards
achieving such equality are only
just beginning, a result of a
government agency's judgment
on a charge of sexism.

the union's members-primarily
dorm workers, custodians, and
University Hospital employes --
earned less than $2.90 an hour.
Another aggravation was infla-
tion, which caused the cost-of-
living to rise more than rime per
cent over the two years, while
AFSCME workers, with no cost-
of-living provision in their con-
tract, retained the same earnirgs
throughout that period.
However, wages were not the
only cause of AFSCME's frustra-
tion with the University. In-
deed, the negotiators spent !our
months rewriting the language
of the contract-a contract
which AFSCME claimed the Uni-
versity had violated moie thsn
1,200 times in the last two years.
While a great deal of AFSC-
ME's contract was rewritten,
1971 was not a year for trying to
geat more money from the Unil
versity. Hard-pressed and faced
with an austerity budget, the Un-
versity told AFSCME it could
only provide an eight per cent in-
crease - or approximately 16

ticularly professorial and pro-
fessional staff.
Thus, after four and a half
months of bargaining and two
contract extensions,, negutia-
tions reached a stalemate. The
membership, spurred by their
desire for greater wages, gave
their bargaining team the right
to call a strike and then voted
not to accept any more contract
extensions. And when the con-
tract ran out the second time, the
workers walked off their jobs.
However, a one-day work stop-
page was just what the Univer-
sity needed to use its most pow-
erful lever against the union-
the legal system. Citing the dis-
ruption of dormitory, hospital,
laundry, and research operations,
the University sought an injunc-
tion against the union.
Almost paradoxically for the
union, the state law which pef-
mitted the union to organize and
bargaining collectively, also for-
bade them to strike.
The University was denied the
injunction, but the union was p,r-
suaded to return to work by the

Even while it awaited recog-
nition, IRA was planning job ac-
tions of its own. The group
threatened to begin withholding
some of its services, for exam-
ple, out-patient work and non-
emergency in-patient cases, if its
15 demands were not met.
However, as it was not a union
yet, the IRA's position was even
more tenuous than AFSCME's.
And having received a partial re-
sponse to some of their non-eco-
nomic demands, and told that
salaries could not be changed un-
til a budget review some months
hence, the IRA never followed
through with its plans to with-
hold services.
Though its militancy dissipat-
ed the IRA may have succeeded
in setting a precedent for union-
ization of such groups as teach-
ing fellows - groups which
have a joint status as students
and University employes.
As MERC must still rule on
petitions filed by University
teaching fellows seeking to
create a union, the board may
be influenced by its decision in
the interns' case.
Also potentially important to
professional University employes
is a MERC ruling authorizing
the formation of a pharmacists'
union. The University had again
opposed this unionization at-
tempt, arguing that its 14 phar-
macists should be considered
part of a large heterogenous
group of University professional
staff, rather than as a separate
union. The pharmacists how-
ever, contended that the smaller
group could represent their in-
terests more effectively.
Again the MERC ruled in fav-
or of the employes, a decision
which could mean that other
professional groups, for instance
the clerical workers, may be able
to break off and form their own
unions, rather than remaining
part of the larger employes'
group.
Yet, in the often complex
world of labor relations, the
pharmacists. designated as a
bargaining unit, voted against
the organization which h a d
been working towards unioni-
zation for more than a year.
.l
4&-
'11 fl

- _ .

7hie

"fiod

9Sox

Located in

Scenic

Northern

Ann Arbor Area

(Dixboro)

Fedele Fauri

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graduate students. During the
negotiation period, HEW claimed
that since most graduate students
are teaching fellows or research
assistants, they are employes of
the University and their admis-
sions and jobs should be included
in the "affirmative action plan."
H o w e v e r, the University
claimed that graduate students
are primarily students and should
be treated as such.
Both the University and HE W's
contract compliance unit even-
tually, agreed to refer the issue
to Elliot Richardson, secretary
of HEW, for final adjudication.
As of late May, Richardson had
not yet given his decision cn
the issue.
Although the issue' of graduate
students was the one blatantly
undecided issue, there were other
aspects of the "affirmative ac-
tion plan" which remained in
question as late as May, four
months after the spirit of the
plan was accepted by HEW.
The most doubtful area was
that of the University's project-
ed "goals and timetables" for
employment of women, submitted
to HEW's contract compliance cf-
fice in Chicago March 8.
By late May the ,oafs had not
received final acceptance from
HEW, and there were indica-
tions that the University might
be asked to revise them and re-
submit new figures.
Of the plan's nine major points,
the goals an dtimetables were the
only specific numerical commit-
ments made by the University in
regards to further employment
of women.
These goals include raising the
number of female professors at
the University from 4'7 in the

much of the change in instruc-
tional positions projected in the
goals and timetables would be
"limited to turnover, in current
staff" and that in most schools
and colleges there would be "no
increase in instructional posi-
tions for the next three years"
because of the budget crisis
In order to review the goals
and timetables, and formulate
plans for carrying out the other
commitments made by the Uni-
versity, the "affirmative action
plan" set up a Women's Com-
mission in January.

ANNOUNCING:
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1971-72
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