The commission which oversees state workers in Michigan recently approved a proposal to require unions to get the consent of state workers every year before charging them dues. This action follows the requirement made in the U.S. Supreme Court’s Janus case, which found that public employers need “clear and compelling” evidence that people want to join and maintain union membership.
But unions and their allies are not happy.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said the action is a “direct assault on our hardworking state employees” and takes “power away from our health care workers, road repair workers, corrections officers and unemployment call center employees.”
The UAW Region 1A director, Chuck Browning, said contracts already allow workers to opt out of union dues.
Michigan AFL-CIO President Ron Bieber said the rule change is “unconstitutional, it’s unsupported by any recent laws or court decisions, and it’s just plain wrong.”
According to The Detroit News, unions said this was “an unconstitutional hurdle” which is unnecessary since “every state employee already has the opportunity to join or leave the union at a given time,” referring to Michigan’s right-to-work law.
These complaints are suspect, and more than a little ironic. Labor unions were arguing a few years ago that Michigan’s right-to-work law was unconstitutional and, indeed, spent tens of millions of dollars to stop workers from having a choice in membership at all. Now, they’re using it to argue against further protecting workers’ rights.
Michigan’s right-to-work law went into effect in 2013. Since then, the state has hired thousands of workers, but total membership in state unions has declined by more than 5,000.
While union officials, who claim to represent the best interest of workers, decry giving state employees more choices, thousands of these very same workers have exercised their new rights. In other words, they have shown their support for these policies by voting with their feet.
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