Union and government officials debate whether the right-to-work legislation is now expired due to the recent Michigan Supreme Court decision.
“This was an attempt by the UAW to take away the rights of certain workers and force union payments from them, going directly against Michigan law,” said Patrick Wright, vice president for legal affairs at the Mackinac Center. “The majority correctly noted that state employee unions have illegally been receiving agency fees from state employees for decades.”
The UAW argued that PA 349 was unconstitutional regarding workers classified as civil service employees and that the Civil Service Commission has the authority to compel civil service workers to pay an agency fee to the union or risk being fired.
Four justices ruled that while the Civil Service Commission has control of salary, benefits, grievance procedures and employment conditions, it does not have the authority to require involuntary payments to the union.
“What the commission cannot do is foist the administrative costs of that choice onto anyone else,” Young said in his opinion. Young’s vote was a part of the majority.
The three others disagreed with the majority, saying that the Civil Service Commission’s authority includes the ability to force union payments from employees.
“2012 PA 349 was not necessary to end this practice; agency fees for state employees have been illegal since the adoption of the 1963 Constitution,” added Wright.
The decision was reminiscent of the decision made in the Michigan Court of Appeals in 2013 addressing state employees being subjected to the right-to-work law despite the existence of the Michigan Civil Service Commission.
“I respect that the freedom-to-work laws inspired passionate debate on both sides, and appreciate that the state’s highest court has now brought this issue to a close,” said Gov. Rick Snyder.