Mackinac Center Requests Michigan Employment Relations Commission Create New Rule Requiring Public-Sector Unions to Notify Members of Opt-Out Windows

‘Streamlined process will help unions keep members informed’

For Immediate Release
June 5, 2014
Ted O'Neil
Media Relations Manager

MIDLAND — The Mackinac Center for Public Policy today asked the Michigan Employment Relations Commission to promulgate a new rule aimed at making communications between public-sector unions and their members easier when it comes to disseminating information about members’ rights under Michigan’s worker freedom law.

 “State law allows anyone to request any state agency to create a new rule,” according to Patrick J. Wright, vice president for legal affairs. “With all of the confusion going on as to when public-sector union members can or cannot opt out of their union, we thought this streamlined process would be a big help to unions that are trying to keep their members informed and for employees who are trying to sort out their rights.”

The proposed new rule would require public-sector unions to notify employees of their ability to opt out three weeks before the start of any resignation window. It would require unions to acknowledge the ability of members to resign and describe the process to be followed, including the address(es) to which a resignation letter should be sent. It would also require public-sector unions to provide a link to a website containing the labor organization’s internal governing documents that impose time restrictions on member resignation.

Public-sector unions would be required to send this information to the work email address of each bargaining unit member. If a member does not have a public-sector work email address, the union would have to send the notice to the employee at both a work and home street address.

“We’ve seen how much trouble, for example the Michigan Education Association has had in trying to keep track of dues-paying members,” Wright said. “But other public-sector unions are probably also experiencing problems with communicating this information effectively to their members, especially those that have a sort of rolling window based on an employee’s hire date. This is a positive step toward fixing those issues and making sure public-sector union members are fully informed of their rights.”

# # # # #