College support staff unionize

Editor’s note: This version of the story has a changed lead to give correct examples of support staff and clarified the process of deciding college closures 

Support staff, such as administrative assistants and employees in Admissions, at MCCC recently voted to unionize.

The support staff union membership will be through the Michigan Education Association, or MEA.

Staff members voted 33-2 on Jan. 4, said Chris Gossett, interim president of the support staff union.

Although no formal announcement has been made on campus, the formation of the union appeared in a campuswide email Feb. 4, which addressed staff complaints with the administration.

Randy Berns, receiving clerk, expressed his frustrations about having to drive to work with icy road conditions on Feb. 4, the day after the college was closed due to a snowstorm. 

“We have no middle college students and what, a handful of classes on a Friday if any, and faculty can cancel if they want to and stay home. This is one of the many reasons the staff unionized,” Berns said in a public email response to MCCC President Kojo Quartey’s Friday message.

Quartey responded in a campuswide email on Feb. 8 that the maintenance staff is consulted to assess the situation regarding inclement weather. From there, the Office of the vice president of Administration makes that decision, said Sue Wetzel, vice president of Administration. 

“Civility and respect are hallmarks of education at MCCC and should be exercised in all situations,” Quartey said. 

Berns declined to comment further about the situation.

The union members voted on the name MC^3 SSU, which stands for Monroe County Community College Support Staff Union. 

Gosset said they are still finalizing their organization, which covers over 40 positions at MCCC.

Linda Torbet, director of Human Resources, said that as employers, management is preparing to negotiate the support staff contract by identifying key issues.

“We are starting from scratch,” Torbet said. “We have policies for support staff, but they will be replaced with contract language.”

Like the faculty and maintenance staff, MC^3 SSU will be part of the Michigan Education Association and the National Education Association.