Construction Trade Group Worried MSU Teaches Unionizing

EAST LANSING, MI (WLNS) – A construction trade group wants Michigan State University to end a program that they say teaches people how to start unions.

MSU officials say the class does not teach how to organize a union, instead it teaches how to work with unions from a company standpoint.

So what’s really going on in the classroom? 6 News Christa Lamendola looks at the agreement between MSU and the building and construction trades department.

At first it was word of mouth, a rumor that Michigan State University’s Building Trades Academy was teaching classes on how to organize construction unions. Now the president of a Michigan based construction company says he’s got the paperwork to prove it.

“The Memorandum of Understanding States that the University is going to sanction or sponsor a program for union organizers only. No MSU Students are allowed to interfere with the day to day operations of law abiding companies.”

We looked at the agreement and in the course description for the academy it does say the course offers overview of organizing issues, such as “offering constructive ways to organize the industry.”

“It’s just bizarre, we’ve never seen anything like this before.”

In an official statement from the university, MSU says that no public money is paying for the program and that the academy does not advocate unionization of any company or group of companies. Instead it explores the business case of why the management of a company would voluntarily engage with a union.

But the MSU Building Trades Academy homepage says something a little different saying” the academy offers classes in organizing.”

So what’s really being taught in the classroom?

Fisher says until things are clear the university needs to send the program somewhere else

“It needs to go back to being administered by the AFL-CIO. There might be a place for union organizing and there is, but it’s through a union hall, not through the halls of a public land grant university.”

While MSU professors help teach courses, as we said, no “public money” is used for the program.

It’s paid for by the people who take the classes. Officials at MSU also say they run similar programs for people in various industries from business to farming.

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