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Lansing State Journal

Michigan Makes it Harder to Work Union

An unelected commission that’s pushing Right to Work succeeds... again

Brian Young's picture
Jul 14, 2020

Michigan is making it harder for public employee unions to collect dues. On Monday, the Michigan Civil Service Commission voted to approve a rule change that would require state workers to opt into their union every year before their union can deduct dues from their paycheck.

The commission also directed the state personnel director to remind workers annually that they are allowed to opt-out of paying their union dues. If a member does not re-authorize their dues deduction by the end of the first full pay period of the new fiscal year, they will automatically have their dues deduction ended. The change will go into effect on October 1st and will affect about 50,000 people, meaning that public employee unions will be forced to spend hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars to re-sign their members annually. The decision could also cost the state millions by forcing them to annually contact every public employee in the state about their right to opt-out of their union. While a Democrat like Governor Gretchen Whitmer is likely to do the bare minimum, an anti-union Governor like Rick Snyder would probably send canvassers to knock on everyone's door.

The commission's decision makes it harder for Michigan unions to collect dues. While the Janus decision allows public employees to opt-out of their union there is no requirement that states require unions to do an annual reauthorization. The rule change will "create impossible barriers to join and remain in a union," said Joey Combs, the President of SEIU Local 517M.

While Michigan currently has a Democratic Governor, the members of the commission were appointed by former Republican Governor Rick Snyder. The commission voted 3-1 to support the measure.

"This action has no other purpose than to impose arbitrary hardships on bargaining units, create turmoil in workplaces during a historic pandemic and a global recession, and disrupt the work that unions do on behalf of these state workers. It's unconstitutional, it's unsupported by any recent laws or court decisions, and it's just plain wrong," Michigan AFL-CIO President Ron Bieber said in a statement. Bieber also said there was no justification for Rick Snyder’s lame-duck panel to prohibit voluntary service fees or require union members to annually opt into voluntary dues deductions.

The measure was pushed by the anti-union Mackinac Center for Public Policy. The question is now, what will the Michigan AFL-CIO do now?

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