Workers defend free choice for workers against spurious union boss legal challenge
Detroit, MI (March 31, 2014) – Today, a federal court upheld the major provisions of Michigan's recently-enacted Right to Work law. Mark Mix, president of the National Right to Work Foundation, issued the following statement in response to the court's ruling:
"After suffering a major legislative defeat and being rejected by voters when they attempted to entrench forced unionism in the state constitution, Michigan union bosses are seeking to strike down Michigan's Right to Work law in the courts. In this case, AFL-CIO union lawyers argued that federal law preempts the enforcement of state Right to Work laws in several respects.
"Fortunately, the court dismissed the union lawyers' challenges to the core provisions of Michigan's Right to Work law and Michigan workers will continue to have the Right to Work without having to pay dues to an unwanted union."
With free legal assistance from Foundation staff attorneys, Terry Bowman, Brian Pannebecker, Aaric Lewis, and Robert Harris, filed a brief with the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan in the case filed by Michigan State AFL-CIO union officials seeking to overturn the law.
All four workers are or were employed in workplaces where a forced dues contract was in place between their employers and union hierarchies before the Right to Work law was enacted. Consequently, the workers could be forced to pay union dues or fees just to keep their jobs, despite the fact they do not belong to the union nor sought the union's so-called "representation."
In the brief, Foundation staff attorneys pointed out that the 24 state private-sector Right to Work laws are protected under federal labor law and cite various federal and state precedents that support their argument. Despite several prior preemption challenges to other state Right to Work laws, there is not a single case invalidating a Right to Work law.
Michigan's Right to Work law states that no employee can be required to pay union dues as a condition of employment, but forced dues contracts between unions and employers entered into prior to the law's effective date remain in force throughout the state until they expire.