Nemeth Law looks at new NLRB decision that student assistants at private universities are employees and can unionize

Kellen Myers, an attorney with Detroit-based management side labor and employment law firm Nemeth Law, P.C., said that Tuesday’s historic decision by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) ruling that student assistants at private colleges and universities are statutory employees covered by the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) will likely have ramifications throughout the country.

“The NLRB’s decision allows students who work as teaching assistants, research assistants and fellows at private colleges and universities at the graduate and undergraduate level to unionize, in essence declaring them to be employees first and students second,” Myers said.

The NLRB decision stems from a union election petition filed by the Graduate Workers of Columbia-GWC, UAW, which was looking to represent both graduate and undergraduate teaching assistants, as well as graduate research assistants, at Columbia University in New York.
In Tuesday’s 3-1 decision, the Board overruled its 2004 decision in Brown University, which held that graduate student assistants who performed services at a university in connection with their studies were not statutory employees under the Act.

The Brown University Board had emphasized the primarily educational relationship between graduate students and their institutions in reasoning that the NLRA was only designed to cover relationships that are economic in nature. The current Board disagreed with this rationale and held that Brown University failed to interpret the NLRA in light of its policies and, in doing so, had “deprived an entire category of workers of the protections of the Act without a convincing justification.”

As a result of the ruling, student assistants at private educational institutions are now protected by the NLRA and have the right to not only unionize but to discuss wages and other terms and conditions of employment or engage in other lawfully protected activity such as strikes. What lies ahead is that student assistants and their respective institutions can now bring to bear the full arsenal of economic weapons available through collective bargaining that are often used in labor disputes, including strikes, lockouts and replacement workers, among other things.

Michigan has approximately 35 private not-for-profit educational institutions (not including the handful of private for-profit institutions) which could be affected by this decision, according to statistics Myers obtained from the Michigan’s Student Financial Services Bureau.

“Although it remains to be seen whether a union election petition at Columbia will be successful, this decision will likely have a major impact at private colleges and universities both in Michigan and across the country,” Myers said. “While the NLRB’s decision is significant, it is consistent with the current nature of the agency, which is aggressively pursuing a more expansive interpretation of the National Labor Relations Act.”

About Nemeth Law, P.C.
Nemeth Law specializes in arbitration, mediation, workplace investigations, employment litigation, traditional labor law and management consultation/training for private and public sector employers. It is the largest woman-owned law firm in Michigan to exclusively represent management in the prevention, resolution and litigation of labor and employment disputes.

New WIN Regional Commuting Patterns Report: As Job Growth Increases in Southeast Michigan Workforce, So Does Average Commute

In 2014, nearly one quarter (23.7%) of southeast Michigan’s workforce traveled more than 50 miles, roundtrip, to and from their place of employment. This compares to 22.5% in 2011 (the last time this data was measured and reported), and the national average of 16%. This data and more, compiled in the Workforce Intelligence Network for Southeast Michigan’s (WIN) new Labor Shed Report, highlights commuting trends for workers in the 16-county WIN region, including Genesee, Hillsdale, Huron, Jackson, Lapeer, Lenawee, Livingston, Macomb, Monroe, Oakland, Saint Clair, Sanilac, Shiawassee, Tuscola, Washtenaw, and Wayne counties, along with the City of Detroit.

The increase in commuting distances throughout southeast Michigan indicates the willingness of individuals to travel further, if necessary, to and from wherever the best employment opportunities are located.

One of the most publicized areas of growth and opportunity in southeast Michigan has been the City of Detroit but in fact most of the job growth in the region has instead been in Oakland County. Several of the larger counties surrounding the city have become prime destinations for commuters. In other counties, nearly half or more of workers travel 50 miles or more each day.

“The reality of increased driving distances means it is becoming increasingly more challenging for people to get back-and-forth from work,” said Lisa Katz, executive director, WIN. “This underscores the critical need for logical thinking around regional public transportation, which is going to be more important than ever as these commuting patterns trend toward longer distances and more time spent on the road.”

Contributing to longer commuting distances is decreased concentration of jobs within a typical commute distance. A 2015 report from the Brookings Institution showed that the number of jobs within a typical commute distance for residents in major metro areas of the U.S. fell by 7% between 2000 and 2012. The typical commute in metro Detroit is 10.4 miles. Despite job growth in southeast Michigan overall, the average number of jobs near the typical metro Detroit resident fell from 408,549 in 2000 to 304,038 in 2012. Jobs in the region are growing, but they are farther away for many residents, especially those closer to Detroit.

The full report can be viewed at: www.win-semich.org/data-research/labor-shed-reports.

ABOUT WORKFORCE INTELLIGENCE NETWORK OF SOUTHEAST MICHIGAN

The Workforce Intelligence Network for Southeast Michigan (WIN) is a collaborative effort between six Michigan Works! Agencies (MWAs), ten community colleges, and numerous other organizations. The WIN partnership aims to create a comprehensive and cohesive workforce development system in Southeast Michigan that provides employers with the talent they need for success.

WIN PARTNERS:

Colleges
Henry Ford College
Jackson College
Macomb Community College
Monroe County Community College
Mott Community College
Oakland Community College
Schoolcraft College
St. Clair County Community College
Washtenaw Community College
Wayne County Community College District

Michigan Works! Agencies:

Detroit Employment Solutions Corp.
GST Michigan Works!
Macomb/St. Clair Michigan Works!
Oakland County Michigan Works!
Southeast Michigan Community Alliance
Southeast Michigan Works! Consortium

Wayne County Executive Warren Evans to Share Update with Members, Sept. 13

Detroit Regional Chamber members will have an exclusive opportunity to hear from Wayne County Executive Warren Evans at the Chamber’s upcoming Networking Reception from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Sept. 13 at TPC Michigan in Dearborn.

Evans will share brief remarks before introducing his staff. Following Warren’s remarks, attendees will have the opportunity to network with members from companies of all sizes and industries that support good governance for the region. The reception is part of a quarterly series showcasing the Big Four regional leaders in Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties, and the city of Detroit, and is part of the Chamber’s ongoing effort to promote regional collaboration among business and political leaders across the Detroit region. Register here.

Detroit Promise Expands Support Services to Increase Graduation Rates

This fall, the Detroit Regional Chamber will launch a new program designed to help students at risk of dropping out to navigate the rigors of higher education. Students who participate in the Detroit Promise scholarship program can access a suite of support services ranging from counseling to advice on exam prep through the Detroit Promise Path.

The Detroit Promise Path expands on a pilot program that kicked off last year at Wayne County Community College District. The more highly structured Promise Path will include four additional community colleges — Henry Ford College, Oakland Community College, Macomb Community College, and Schoolcraft College, giving over 300 students the opportunity to work with a campus coach, who can advise them on registration, financial aid, buying books, and other important topics. The program also offers monthly incentives, such as a gas or a grocery card, to offset expenses not covered by financial aid.

The program builds on the Chamber’s longstanding effort to increase the number of students in the region with postsecondary degrees in order to grow the talent pipeline. It also addresses the “summer melt” phenomenon, which occurs when students in the spring decide to attend college but fail to enroll by the fall semester deadline. For information on the Detroit Promise Path program, contact Greg Handel at 313.596.0331.

Brooks Kushman Of Counsel David C. Berry featured in Crain’s Detroit Business

Brooks Kushman Of Counsel David C. Berry was featured in Crain’s Detroit Business’ August 21, 2016 article “Pro bono IP work a growing service.”

In the article, Berry discusses the increase in intellectual property pro bono services available to low-income inventors and innovators in Michigan.

“There’s always been pro bono (IP) activities, but it flies under the radar,” Berry said. “There isn’t the established legal aid network like other areas of law, but IP is important to building new inventors and innovations.”

Berry has over 25 years of intellectual property experience, focusing on a variety of IP matters including patents, license agreements, litigation and trade secrets. He represents clients ranging from Fortune 100 companies to smaller privately-held companies. David is the Chair of the State Bar of Michigan Intellectual Property Law Section, the Chair of the Michigan Patent Pro Bono Project steering committee, and is an adjunct professor for Wayne State University Law School’s patent procurement clinic.

Rehmann honored as one of metro Detroit’s 2016 ‘Best and Brightest Companies®’

Rehmann has been named to the 2016 list of “Metropolitan Detroit’s 101 Best and Brightest Companies to Work For®.” A program of the National Association for Business Resources, the competition recognizes organizations that demonstrate exceptional human resources and employee enrichment practices.

The winning companies are invited to a breakfast and awards ceremony on Friday, September 23, at the Detroit Marriott at the Renaissance Center.

“This award reflects the culture we’ve established over the course of Rehmann’s 75 years in business,” said Katie Strehler, Rehmann’s Chief Human Resources Officer. “We’ve always been and continue to be committed to providing our associates with the flexibility, resources and support necessary for their development and success.”

The Best and Brightest Companies to Work For® is a program that provides the business community with the opportunity to gain recognition, showcase their best practices and demonstrate why they are an ideal place for employees to work.

About Rehmann
Rehmann is a fully integrated financial services firm of CPAs and consultants, wealth advisors and corporate investigators dedicated to providing clients proactive ideas and solutions to help them prosper professionally and personally. The firm offers a cross-functional team approach that gives clients direct access to a professional in any available service. Rehmann is ranked as the 30th largest firm in the United States, with nearly 800 associates in Michigan, Ohio and Florida. Rehmann is an independent member of Nexia International, offering clients a global approach. Find us online at rehmann.com.

Brinks attorney to lead panel discussion at Medical Design & Manufacturing conference

Keith Weiss, Ph.D., an intellectual property attorney in the Ann Arbor office of Brinks Gilson & Lione, one of the largest intellectual property law firms in the U.S., will serve as the moderator of a panel discussion on 3-D printing and medical devices at the 2016 Medical Design & Manufacturing (MD&M) Conference & Expo: Creating the Total Solution – Value Engineering to Deliver Clinical & Economic Outcomes. The event will take place in Minneapolis on Sept. 21-22 with an expected 5,000 industry professionals in attendance.

Medical Design & Manufacturing Minneapolis has been the epicenter of the region’s medtech innovation, communication and solutions for the past 22 years. On Sept. 22, Dr. Weiss will facilitate a panel discussion on “Answering the Key Question: Can 3-D Printing Really Be Used to Make Medical Devices?” The panel discussion will cover crucial topics such as exploring ways to integrate new materials and processes in design progression; balancing design considerations with manufacturing necessities; and addressing issues of repeatability, reliability and consistency.

At Brinks, Dr. Weiss focuses his practice on patent prosecution and intellectual property agreements with an emphasis on IP portfolio planning, development and management. Prior to practicing law, he worked for 20 years in R & D management, product development, and technology licensing. Dr. Weiss is listed as an inventor on more than 30 U.S. patents and four pending U.S. patent applications regarding advanced materials, components and systems used in the automotive, aerospace, coatings, plastics, and microelectronic industries.
Learn more about the 2016 MD&M Minneapolis Conference & Expo here.

Brinks Gilson & Lione
The attorneys, scientific advisors and patent agents at Brinks Gilson & Lione focus their practice in the field of intellectual property. Brinks is one of the largest intellectual property law firms in the U.S. Clients around the world use Brinks to help them protect and enforce their intellectual property rights. Brinks lawyers provide counseling in all aspects of patent, trademark, unfair competition, trade secret and copyright law. More information is at www.brinksgilson.com.

Brinks attorney serves as contributing author on new intellectual property law publication

Keith Weiss, Ph.D., an intellectual property attorney in the Ann Arbor office of Brinks Gilson & Lione, one of the largest intellectual property law firms in the U.S., served as a contributing author to the Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education’s new publication, Intellectual Property Law – 2016 Edition. Dr. Weiss, who is listed as an inventor on 30 U.S. patents and four pending U.S. patent applications regarding advanced materials, components and systems used in the automotive, aerospace, coatings, plastics, and microelectronic industries, co-authored the publication chapter on patenting inventions, along with Brinks colleague, Marc Richards. Richards is an intellectual property attorney in the Chicago office of Brinks.

At Brinks, Dr. Weiss focuses his practice on patent prosecution and intellectual property agreements with an emphasis on IP portfolio planning, development, and management. Prior to practicing law, he worked for 20 years in R & D management, product development, and technology licensing.

Brinks Gilson & Lione
The attorneys, scientific advisors and patent agents at Brinks Gilson & Lione focus their practice in the field of intellectual property. Brinks is one of the largest intellectual property law firms in the U.S. Clients around the world use Brinks to help them protect and enforce their intellectual property rights. Brinks lawyers provide counseling in all aspects of patent, trademark, unfair competition, trade secret and copyright law. More information is at www.brinksgilson.com.

American Society of Employers’ (ASE’s) Quarterly Economic & Employment Survey results for second quarter 2016 reflect continuing positive business outlook for Michigan employers

The American Society of Employers (ASE), one of the nation’s oldest and largest employer associations, has released its 2016 Quarterly Economic & Employment Survey – Second Quarter results. The findings remain positive for Michigan, with employers continuing to expect a stable or even improved business outlook.

Highlights of ASE’s 2016 Quarterly Economic & Employment Survey – Second Quarter:

• The percentage of Michigan employers who believe their business outlook will not change or will improve over the next six months is 88%, consistent with first quarter 2016 and fourth quarter 2015 results.
• The percentage of employers who expect hiring levels to remain the same over the next six months remains strong at 63%; also encouraging, almost 25% of employers are planning to ramp up hiring over the next six months.
• Violation of workplace polices as a reason for involuntary separations is up 11% from first quarter 2016 survey results, but 2% lower than was reported in the second quarter of 2015.
• Personal reasons as a reason for voluntary separation decreased 11% from the first quarter of 2016 and, at 46%, is the lowest it has been in the past twelve months.
• Retirement as a reason for separation decreased by 9% from last quarter after steadily increasing over the past two quarters.
The survey results were announced by ASE President and CEO, Mary E. Corrado.

“It’s always interesting to see the nuggets of employment trend data that emerge from ASE’s quarterly surveys,” Corrado said. “The data point showing a drop in retirements reflects a material shift over survey findings from the previous two quarters. This will be an important statistic to follow throughout 2016.”

Background information on the ASE 2016 Quarterly Economic & Employment Survey – Second Quarter

• 116 organizations from across Michigan participated.
• Organizations with one to 500 Michigan employees made up more than 80% of the survey sample, while organizations with 501 to 1,000 Michigan employees represented just over 5% of the sample. The remaining 13.6% of the sample comes from organizations with more than 1,000 Michigan employees.
• A variety of industries are represented, with manufacturing organizations representing just over 60% of the survey sample.

To obtain a copy of ASE’s 2016 Quarterly Economic & Employment Survey – Second Quarter, contact ASE’s Compensation and Benefits Surveys department at surveys@aseonline.org or 248.353.4500. This survey is available free of charge to ASE members, and is $525 for non-members.

About the American Society of Employers (ASE) – a Centennial Organization
The American Society of Employers (ASE) is a not-for-profit trade association providing people-management information and services to Michigan employers. Since 1902, member organizations have relied on ASE to be their single, cost-effective source for information and support, helping to grow their bottom line by enhancing the effectiveness of their people. Learn more about ASE at www.aseonline.org.

Clayton & McKervey Named Finalist for “Transfer Pricing Firm of the Year” by International Tax Review

Clayton & McKervey, an international accounting and business advisory firm servicing growth-driven middle-market companies, has been nominated for the International Tax Review’s 11th Annual Americas Tax Awards, in the category of Transfer Pricing Firm of the Year – U.S. East Coast. This is the firm’s first year being included on the shortlist of finalists, alongside several of the largest accounting and law firms in the world.

The shortlist was derived from peer review and client research, as well as supplemental questionnaires. Clayton & McKervey is one of seven firms nominated in the U.S. East Coast category.

“We are thrilled to be recognized for our work in the growing area of transfer pricing by our clients and peers,” said Clayton & McKervey Principal, Transfer Pricing Alex Martin. “Being identified among several of the most well-regarded firms in the industry is a great honor. To me, this nomination is indicative of the caliber of international knowledge Clayton & McKervey delivers to clients across all areas,” he said.

Firms from 15 countries in North, South and Central America will compete for the awards, which will be presented during a dinner at the Pierre Hotel in New York on September 15, 2016. For the first time, the ceremony will feature the presentation of awards to practice leaders in tax, transfer pricing, indirect tax and tax disputes, respectively.