If you are a private sector worker in Michigan, please click here.
Michigan’s legislative majority and current Governor are unfortunately repealing its Right to Work laws, which grant workers a right to not pay monies to unions they oppose. This special notice is intended to inform public-sector Michigan workers, employed by the state government, a local government, or a school district, of their rights after the repeal of the Right to Work laws takes effect when the current legislative session ends.*
In short, Michigan is repealing its statutory ban on forced fee agreements that compel workers to pay fees to unions to keep their jobs. Luckily for Michigan public servants, the U.S. Supreme Court in Janus v AFSCME, 138 S. Ct. 2448 (2018), won by Foundation attorneys, held that the First Amendment to the United States Constitution prohibits governments and unions from imposing force fee requirements on public-sector workers. So public-sector workers retain the freedom to choose to not financially support a union notwithstanding the repeal of the Right of Work laws.
* The repeal of Michigan’s Right to Work law will impact private sector workers differently than most public sector workers. Other pages of this website discuss the rights of: (1) private-sector Michigan workers who are employed in industries other than the airline, railroad, or agricultural industries [Special Legal Notice to Private-Sector Workers in Michigan]; (2) private sector Michigan workers who are employed in the airline and railroad industries [About Your Legal Rights: Railway or Airline Employee]; and (3) federal employees [About Your Legal Rights: Federal Government Employee].
Detailed Explanation of Your Rights
A forced fee agreement is a contract between a union and public employer that requires all workers who are subject to the union’s monopoly representation to pay fees to the union to keep their jobs. These compulsory arrangements are sometimes called “union shop” or “agency shop” agreements.
In 2013, Michigan enacted a Right to Work law that prohibited public employers and unions from entering into forced fee agreements. That law thus guaranteed to employees a statutory right to not be compelled to pay monies to a union.
Later, in 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court in Janus v. AFSCME, 138 S. Ct. 2448 (2018), a lawsuit supported by the Foundation, held that the First Amendment prohibits public employers and unions from maintaining forced fee agreements. Janus thus held that the First Amendment guarantees to employees a constitutional right to not be compelled to pay monies to a union.
Michigan’s repeal of its Right to Work law strips public sector workers of their statutory right to not be compelled to support a union financially. But it does not—and cannot—strip workers of their constitutional right under Janus, which remains intact. In fact, the repeal law states that it does not authorize Michigan public employers to enter into forced fee agreements unless there is “[a] decision or ruling by the United States Supreme Court that reverses or limits, in whole or in part, Janus v. AFSCME.”
In short, public servants’ right to choose not to financially support a union is protected by the First Amendment notwithstanding some Michigan politicians’ unfortunate decision to repeal the state’s Right to Work laws. You may visit MyJanusRights.org to learn more about Janus and your constitutional rights under it.