Union Members' Trump Card

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Michigan isn't a "right to work" state. That means in order to hold many jobs, Michigan workers have to pay dues to a union. But that doesn't mean Michigan workers don't have a trump card to play in the battle for worker rights.

Here's what union officials don't want you to know: As a union member, you have a right to petition the National Labor Relations Board to hold something called a "deauthorization" vote. In other words, if you're not happy with the way your union is running things, the National Labor Relations Board can, at your request, hold a vote of the members of your union to decide whether you want to stop paying dues. And if a majority says stop paying, the payments stop!

Unfortunately, the law doesn't provide this option to Michigan's 310,000 public-sector employees. Maybe state lawmakers should consider allowing public workers to exercise the same rights as their private-sector counterparts.

But private-sector workers saddled with an apathetic, abusive, or under-performing union need to know that they have options. They can hold an election that deauthorizes the collection of union dues until the union shapes up. For more information on this option, workers should call the National Labor Relations Board.

For the Mackinac Center, I'm Catherine Martin.