No More Automatic Dues Deductions For Public Employees in MI; Lansing Challenges Union Chicanery
By Michael J. Burns March 28, 2012 | Categories: Labor & Industrial Relations, Compliance & Regulatory Issues
Despite Governor Rick Snyder’s hesitancy over pursuing a Right-to-Work law in Michigan, he has signed a new law (P.A 53 of 2012, approved and effective March 15, 2012), that curtails some labor overreaching by prohibiting automatic payroll deductions of union dues for union employees working in public school districts. Many labor contracts require the employer to make the deduction from pay for union dues and then turn the money over to the union. This new law would prohibit that practice going forward. Existing contracts that require union dues deductions will be allowed to continue as written for the remainder of their current terms, but then must “sunset.”
This new law also bars public employers from “initiating, creating, or contributing to the formation or administration of any labor organization.” This part of the law was enacted to prevent the recurrence of something that happened during the Granholm administration. Recall that the UAW and AFSCME, working in cooperation with departments under the direction of then-Gov. Jennifer Granholm, used a dubious mail-in election process to “organize” home-based child-care providers that received payment from the State of Michigan under welfare benefit programs. The state then deducted union dues from the child-care provider’s state fees and forwarded them to the union. Child-care providers who provided services in their homes and were owner-operators (not generally workers or employees) found themselves unexpectedly unionized and paying union dues. Many did not know they had somehow agreed to be organized and had no recollection of having the opportunity to vote on union membership. Dues collected from the conscripted union members amounted to well over $1.5 million per year that went directly into the union coffers.
The new law prohibits this type of chicanery used by partisan government entities and the unions to “recognize” a public collective bargaining unit.
In a separate but related development, the Michigan Senate acted to forestall the organization of Adult Home Care Workers. Last week that body passed a bill (SB 1018) that, if passed by the House and signed by Gov. Snyder, would prevent workers who provide home health services to adults from unionizing.
For several months, the Senate had not acted on a separate bill to accomplish this objective. But then, only about a week ago, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) announced the launch of a petition drive to put a constitutional amendment on the November ballot guaranteeing those workers' right to form a union. This development prompted the Senate to act; SB 1018 passed 25-13 along party lines. Only one Republican (Sen. Roger Kahn of Saginaw Township) joined all 12 Democrats in opposition.
Source: CCH StateWitholdingReportingNews 3/22/2012. Gongwer News Service