Public employees deserve to have a choice and a voice in who represents them in the workplace. Unfortunately, once workers vote to unionize, the union becomes like an heirloom passed down from one generation of employees to the next.
Unlike grandpa’s old typewriter that is stored in the closet — long past its prime but unobtrusive — these entrenched unions are still an force, with their monopoly on representing all employees both new and old. Worse, chances are slim to none that new employees will have a say or a vote on this representation.
In fact, fewer than 1 percent of public employees ever had the chance to vote on the union that represents them. Even more stark, in the 10 largest school districts in Michigan, it’s likely that 75 percent of the teachers were not even born when the union organized their school. This is because most government unions organized shortly after Michigan approved public sector collective bargaining in 1965.
The vast majority of public employees have never had a say on which union represents them, and they still must accept representation, whether they are union members or not. This remains true even in a right-to-work state and after the recent ruling in Janus v. AFSCME, which prohibits public employees from being fired for not paying union fees.
The time is now to give more power to public employees and give them the right to vote on whether to keep the union at their workplace or vote it out.
Worker Voting Rights, otherwise known as union recertification, has already been passed in Missouri, Florida, Iowa, and Wisconsin.
The idea is popular: 83 percent of voters and 78 percent of union households support the idea of requiring a union to stand for reelection and seek the support of workers.
Michigan should be the next state to embrace union democracy and ensure that all workers under a public union contract have a say in which organization represents them.