An Executive Order protecting the political freedom of Michigan workers would establish Michigan as a "beacon of light" for the rest of the United States.
Michigan citizens have been a catalyst in establishing Constitutional protections in
this area of law (both Abood and Lehnert were Michigan cases); yet, these
hard won rights are going almost unrealized because of the lack of information available
to employees working under compulsory union arrangements. It is time to make workers aware
of their rights under applicable Supreme Court decisions and to make it possible for them
to exercise these rights freely. Unions, the NLRB, the current national administration,
and employers have kept workers uninformed of their basic civil and human rights. The
situation is unlikely to change and it warrants executive branch leadership and attention.
Governor Engler should intervene with an Executive Order. The order should notify state
public employees (including school employees) and private employees working for
contractors on state-funded projects of their statutory and First Amendment Constitutional
rights to limit dues payment to collective bargaining functions. President George
Bushs 1992 Executive Order mandated that federal contractors post notices at their
work sites informing union members of their Beck rights. Governor Engler should
follow suit as a practical and effective way to protect the rights of Michigan citizens.
The Governor, acting as Chief Executive Officer of Michigan, has the Constitutional
authority in Article V, Sections 1, 2 and 8 and the Michigan State Constitution to require
the posting of Beck information notices on all public and private workplaces
throughout the state. This Executive Order would not seek to change the laws, but rather
to implement the laws according to statutory and U.S. Constitutional dictates. No
separation of powers problem is presented.
An Executive Order is a legitimate, responsible, and necessary exercise of
gubernatorial authority. 57 President Bushs Executive Order 12800
could be used as a model for an Executive Order issued by the Governor, but Governor
Engler should also direct MERC to implement a policy to further carry out his directives.
MERC should prepare for this by standardizing its policy to inform workers of their rights
pursuant to the proper Supreme Court precedents, and the agency should further develop
written materials that can inform and assist workers attempting to exercise their rights
to reduced dues.
An Executive Order protecting the political freedom of Michigan workers would establish
Michigan as a "beacon of light" for the rest of the United States. It would
build upon and support the recent 1994 Michigan state legislation amending the Michigan
Corporate Campaign Finance Act requiring labor unions to obtain affirmative annual consent
from union members before automatically deducting political contributions from employee
payrolls. 58 This law is now in operation as a result of the approval of
the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. 59 Governor
Engler is reported to have praised the ruling as an extension of "worker
Governor Englers intervention in the Beck arena would undoubtedly be an
extension of worker democracy. Some special interests might complain that this is
harassment, but those who experience the real harassment and obstruction are Michigan
workers who try to exercise their right to refuse to fund political causes with which they
disagree. Any question of whether they would exercise a Beck right can be settled
right here in Michigan.