The following article appears in the spring 2002 issue of IMPACT!, the Mackinac Center for Public Policy's quarterly newsletter.
Michigan public-sector employees will have a much better idea of what their unions are doing with their dues dollars if the Michigan Legislature passes, and Gov. Engler signs, a bill inspired by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy's labor policy team.
The bill, introduced in the House Jan. 24, would require public-sector unions operating in Michigan to report their financial dealings to the same extent as businesses and corporations in order to ensure that workers' mandatory dues are spent in ways that those workers approve.
This blow for worker rights is being struck because a Mackinac Center report released in December caught the attention of Rep. Robert Gosselin, R-Troy, chairman of the House Committee on Employment Relations, Training, and Safety. The report, authored by Mackinac Center Director of Labor Policy Robert Hunter, Labor Research Associate Paul Kersey, and former researcher Shawn Miller, is entitled "The Michigan Union Accountability Act: A Step Toward Accountability and Democracy in Labor Organizations."
Gosselin's legislation would require annual financial reports from unions representing government employees in Michigan. It calls for unions to report their spending in a variety of functional categories, including bargaining, grievances, campaign contributions, and issue advocacy. Annual reports would be audited by independent accountants to assure accuracy. The information would discourage waste and fraud and help workers to assess their unions' fiscal priorities and financial health.
"Government employees across the state pay more than $100 million in mandatory union dues each year, yet, as the law stands, they receive no accounting for how their unions spend this money," said Hunter. "Michigan workers who are forced to support a union have a right to know how their money is being spent."
"I commend the Mackinac Center for its hard work and input in bringing this important issue to the attention of Michigan citizens," Gosselin stated.