Michigan state employees had ample reason to celebrate the new year — their unions can no longer get them fired for not paying dues or fees.

Almost all of the collective bargaining agreements between the state and its classified employee unions expired Dec. 31, meaning that right-to-work now applies to the vast majority of the more than 35,000 unionized state employees and they can exercise their rights immediately.

"Yes, state employees will have the option of opting out of the union," said Kurt Weiss, spokesman for the State Budget Office.

Unlike the Michigan Education Association, which attempts to limit teachers from exercising their rights to a narrow window every year, almost all contracts for civil service employees provide that these state workers can revoke payment or membership at any time.

Stay Engaged

Receive our weekly emails!

Last year, several unions including those affiliated with the UAW, SEIU, and AFCME sued the state claiming the new right-to-work law could not be applied to public sector employees in the state's civil service system. The unions argued that Article 11, Section 5, of the state constitution carved out these employees and gave the Michigan Civil Service Commission the authority to regulate the conditions of their employment.

Following that rationale meant the Legislature could not write a law giving state civil service employees the choice to financially support the government union at their worksite or not.

The Michigan Court of Appeals disagreed, ruling that the state's right-to-work "is constitutional as applied to classified civil service positions in Michigan" and therefore applies to state civil service employees.

Specifically, in August 2013 the court held that the Legislature has the power to "to enact laws relative to conditions of employment, and [apply] those laws toward all employment in the state, public and private, civil service or not civil service" and that "Michigan caselaw fully supports the principle that the Legislature, as the policymaking branch of government, has the power to pass labor laws of general applicability that also apply to classified civil service employees."

The case is on appeal to the state Supreme Court but in the meantime, the tens of thousands of unionized state workers can determine if their union is worth the cost.

While there are an assortment of economic benefits associated with right-to-work states, the most important thing is the freedom to choose whether or not to pay money to private groups in order to hold a job. Thankfully, the government in Michigan will no longer be forcing money to be extracted from citizens merely because of where they work.

Workers can find more information on how to exercise their rights on the Mackinac Center's website, www.MIWorkerFreedom.org. On the website workers can determine if right-to-work applies to them and can download a form to opt-out of their union. 

F. Vincent Vernuccio is the director of labor policy at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Jarrett Skorup is a research associate for the Center.

~~~~~

Related Articles:

West Virginia House Vote Could Tip National Scale on Right-to-Work

Vernuccio Testifies on Right-to-Work in West Virginia

Majority of States in Country Are Now Right-to-Work

Right-to-Work States Have Faster Income Growth

West Virginia Could Become 26th Right-to-Work State

Michigan Supreme Court Upholds Right-to-Work for State Employees

Stay Engaged

Simply enter your email below to receive our weekly email:

Facebook
Twitter

Public charter schools give parents more options. They provide options that may not be available in a traditional public school setting. ChoosingCharters.com tells the stories of parents and students who find value in public charter schools and how their lives have been improved with choice. Visit ChoosingCharters.com for more information.

Related Sites