Workers of the World, Know Your Rights!

Click for audio Workers of the World, Know Your Rights!

One courageous and tenacious Michigan worker has led the way for unionized employees who may not know their legal rights in the workplace—rights to protect their freedom of speech and their paychecks.

Roland Buzenius of Three Rivers fought in court against his union’s—and his employer’s—insistence that he had to remain a union "member in good standing" in order to keep his job.

The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals sided with him and ordered removal of a union contract clause that misrepresents the legal obligations of employees. The court affirmed that actual membership in a union is a matter of individual employee choice, and no one can lose his job by resigning from a union.

Nonmembership has its privileges. A 1988 Supreme Court decision restricts the amount of dues that unions can force nonmembers to pay. Union workers can be forced to pay only the portion of dues directly related to collective bargaining, and not unrelated union expenses such as political campaign contributions which are sometimes 90 percent of all dues.

Most workers don’t need a union to tell them which politicians they have to support. Workers have the right to take charge of their political decisions and their paychecks.

For the Mackinac Center, this is Catherine Martin.