MIDLAND, Mich. — Unions must not be allowed to charge non-members exorbitant fees for the right to voice complaints to their employer, according to an amicus brief filed by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy to the Michigan Supreme Court. The brief was filed in the case Technical Professional and Officeworkers Association of Michigan v. Renner.
Unions have monopoly power over employment rules and conditions, including how grievances must be addressed. In this case, the union refused to represent Daniel Lee Renner in a dispute with his employer unless he paid $1,290 just to start the grievance process. The collective bargaining agreement negotiated by TPOAM prohibits individual employees like Renner from filing grievances on their own behalf. This forces those employees to obtain union representation if they wish to have their voices heard.
“This policy is meant to strongarm public employees who have made it clear that they do not want to associate with a union,” said Patrick J. Wright, vice president for legal affairs at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. “Unions can’t have it both ways. If a union insists on setting the terms by bargaining for everyone, it should treat member and non-member grievances equally.”
Michigan law has consistently held that unions have a duty to represent non-members fairly, the brief argues. This is consistent with similar federal requirements. TPOAM’s position is contrary to long-standing legal precedent.
This is the second time that the Michigan Supreme Court requested an amicus brief from the Mackinac Center for this case. The Center submitted a brief in April of 2022, prior to oral arguments on whether the case should be heard, which were held in October of 2022.
The Michigan Education Association, American Federation for Teachers Michigan, AFSCME and AFL-CIO all joined a brief that agreed with the Mackinac Center’s position that the union has an obligation to represent members and non-members equally.
Read the brief here. Learn more about the case here.
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