Michigan Is Ripe to Enact Paycheck Protection

Michigan is a prime candidate for the enactment of worker paycheck protection for two reasons.

One is that, at 18 percent, Michigan has the highest percentage of forced dues-paying private workers in the country—nearly double the national average. When government employees are included, Michigan ranks third nationally with 23 percent of its total workforce subject to union dues requirements.

That translates into big-dollar refunds. Assume each union worker's average annual dues to be $425. If just 20 percent of that money is spent on union activities unrelated to workplace representation, almost one million Michigan workers could keep $82 million of their dues money annually just by withholding permission from their union to spend it on politics and controversial social causes. That's a potentially significant pay increase for each objecting employee, especially if consent is withheld over several years.

The second reason paycheck protection is a winning issue in Michigan is one of precedent. Michigan citizens have secured, in two historic U. S. Supreme Court cases,14 similar Beck-style rights for government employees. And Public Act 117,15 passed by the state Legislature in 1994 and upheld in federal court,16 already requires Michigan unions to gain written authorization from dues payers prior to taking automatic payroll deductions for political action fund contributions.