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Avoiding Michigan’s Right to Work Legislation

Michigan’s Right to Work legislation (“Legislation”) was signed into law by Governor Synder on December 12, 2012.  The Legislation will become effective on the 91st day following the final adjournment of the 2012 regular session of the Michigan legislature (December 27, 2012). Unions are attempting to either renew or extend current collective bargaining agreements (“CBAs”) prior to the Legislation becoming effective, in an effort to avoid impact that the Legislation would have on union dues and participation.

The Legislation prohibits, in part, any Michigan employer (including private and public employers) and union from requiring an individual, as a condition of employment, to (i) become or remain a union member; or (ii) pay any dues or fees of any kind to a labor organization.  These prohibitions apply to CBAs that are extended or renewed (or first become effective) after the Legislation becomes effective.

In an effort to avoid these prohibitions, unions are seeking to finalize new CBAs or extend or renew current CBAs before the Legislation takes effect.  Employers may be agreeing to discuss the possibility of extending or renewing CBAs before the Legislation becomes effective, but are generally seeking concessions from the unions as a condition for doing so.  For example, in the Taylor School District, the board and union agreed to a 10-year union security clause, during which time all teachers in the district would be compelled to remain members of the union and pay dues.  In exchange, the union agreed to a 10% pay cut and cost saving changes in health care for a five year period.

Be aware, however, that the Taylor contract has caught the attention of Michigan’s House Oversight Committee, which is concerned that the contract may be contradictory to the Legislation’s intent.  The House Oversight Committee requested that district officials and union representatives attend a hearing to discuss the matter, but the union declined to attend.  It is unknown what, if anything, the House Oversight Committee intends to do next, but we will be monitoring this situation closely and will timely report on any developments.

Health care providers with union employees must pay careful attention to this matter.  For example, hospitals with union employees may find that those unions are requesting to renew or extend CBAs in an effort to avoid the impact that the Legislation would have on union dues and participation.  If you are receiving such requests, or have any questions regarding Michigan’s Right to Work Legislation, please contact your Foster Swift labor law professional.

Categories: Employee Benefits, Employment, Regulatory

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Mike Blum is an award-winning Michigan labor and employment lawyer in Detroit who has litigated some of the state’s most important cases. Part of Mike’s effectiveness as a litigator, in ADR and as a counselor to employers, comes from his 11 years with the National Labor Relations Board.

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Congratulations to the attorneys of the Health Care practice group at Foster Swift Collins & Smith, PC for their inclusion in the Best Lawyers in America 2020 edition. Firm-wide, 42 lawyers were listed. Best Lawyers lists are compiled based on an exhaustive peer-review evaluation and as lawyers are not required or allowed to pay a fee to be listed; inclusion in Best Lawyers is considered a singular honor. Health Care practice group members listed in Best Lawyers are as follows:

To see the full list of Foster Swift attorneys listed in Best Lawyers 2020, click here.