Michigan unions battle private sector right to work law


DETROIT - Disregarding a move by Michigan's GOP governor to take the issue straight to the state Supreme Court, Michigan unions sued to overturn the state's so-called "right to work" law affecting private sector workers.

Left unchallenged - at least so far - was Michigan's other right to work statute, covering public sector workers. The lame-duck GOP-run legislature rushed both laws through on Dec. 11 and GOP Gov. Rick Snyder signed them immediately.

Then, trying to pre-empt the union coalition, Snyder asked the state Supreme Court in early February to rule on the constitutionality of right to work (for less), especially for public workers.

Right to work, which both unions and Democratic President Barack Obama call "right to work for less," has been a favorite radical right-big business cause for decades. It lets workers covered by union contracts escape paying dues or fees for the union's services, including bargaining and worker protection in conflicts with bosses. But the unions still must foot the bill for such "free riders."

"Right to work" is designed to break unions financially, thus depriving them of power to defend workers and raise their standards of living.

The state Building and Construction Trades Council, the state AFL-CIO, Change To Win and the Service Employees are among the unions that sued Michigan in federal court in Detroit on Feb. 11. No trial date was set. Right to work (for less) is scheduled to become law on March 27.

Andrew Nickelhoff, an attorney for the firm that represents the unions - and has represented the state labor federation for decades - told Reuters the Michigan law is illegal because it includes a $500 fine and jail terms for violators, in other words for unions that sign contracts which mandate collection of dues or representation fees. The Michigan right to work for less law also, illegally, throws out an entire union contract with a company if the contract has a dues collection clause, court papers add.

"Our position is that so many parts of the right-to-work law are unconstitutional, that the court should strike down the law in its entirety," Nickelhoff added. The Michigan right to work law violates the National Labor Relations Act, he said.

Unions had planned to challenge both right to work for less laws in state courts, arguing the legislature illegally passed them. They said lawmakers violated the state's Open Meetings Law by barring the public from the state capitol in Lansing. Passage, on virtual party-line votes, occurred during a tumultuous scene: At least 12,000 unionists descended on the capitol, demanding to be heard. But state troopers, at Snyder's command, barred their way. And the legislature's GOP majority locked the capitol doors.

Photo: Michigan AFL-CIO Facebook page.


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  • Gerald is quite confused and has it all wrong. Wall St and Walmart type corporations use loopholes to avoid paying hundreds of billions in taxes. Then, to silence the opposition to their theft, they try to destroy the labor movement and bring the wages of union workers and others to starvation levels. Smarten-up Gerald.

    Posted by John Rummel, 02/22/2013 11:34am (3 years ago)

  • The elite overpaid greedy government bureaucratic state and other local union government employees in Wisconsin were protesting in Madison last year demanding that the State Government take more money from the wealth creating taxpaying businessmen, the taxpaying non-government workers, and the property owners to then give that tax collected money to the Elite Government Bureaucratic union workers that do not create any wealth but only consume national wealth in the form of more government worker pay and retirement benefits.

    What happens if the businesses leave that state to escape these additional taxes, and take their non-government jobs with them?

    When the costs of US federal, state, and municipal Union Bureaucratic Salaries and Benefits in the USA get to be too bloated, then riots by the US taxpayers might also occur as they were occurring in the Middle East during the Arab Spring of 2011.

    Posted by Gerald Spencer, 02/21/2013 3:43pm (3 years ago)

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