Amendment would send “meaningful message about the state’s business climate and the importance of workers’ rights”
Wednesday, Aug. 29, 2007
Contact: Patrick J. Wright
Senior Legal Analyst
MIDLAND — The Mackinac Center for Public Policy today released model language for a Michigan constitutional amendment that would recognize Michigan workers’ rights to hold any job in the public or private sector regardless of whether they belonged to a workplace union or paid union fees. The amendment language was developed by Patrick J. Wright, the Center’s senior legal analyst, following his review of the relevant statutes, amendments and case law in the nation’s 22 right-to-work states. Such an amendment has been discussed recently by opinion leaders as a means of attracting businesses to Michigan.
Wright said this morning: "This right-to-work amendment would grant Michigan workers new workplace freedom in plain and simple language that would withstand legal challenge. I’ve recommended a constitutional amendment, rather than a statute, because the permanence of an amendment would send a more meaningful message about the state’s business climate and the importance of workers’ rights."
Wright’s review of other states’ right-to-work provisions led him to include three important clauses in the model amendment:
a clear guarantee of right-to-work protections for public employees, such as police officers and teachers, since two courts have ruled that government workers must be mentioned directly to be covered;
a broad and explicit ban on requiring union fees of any kind as a condition of employment, since one court recently allowed an onerous fee that had not been specifically prohibited; and
a prohibition on employers’ discrimination against union members, thereby honoring the U.S. Constitution’s "equal protection" clause and ensuring that union and nonunion employees are treated equally under the law.
Wright’s model language for a right-to-work amendment is posted on the Web at www.mackinac.org/8973, and the 17-page study (which also includes the language) can be found at www.mackinac.org/8961. Wright is a former Michigan Supreme Court commissioner and a former Michigan assistant attorney general; he will be available at a Mackinac Center Issues and Ideas Forum at the Radisson Hotel in Lansing from noon to 1:00 p.m. today.