Legal notices: Though forced dues will again be legal in the private sector, Michigan workers can still reject union boss demands to join union and fund union political activities
Lansing, MI (February 9, 2024) – The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation has issued special legal notices to public and private sector workers in Michigan, which explains what rights workers still have to resist union boss demands as the repeal of the state’s Right to Work law takes effect.
In March 2023, the Michigan Legislature voted against the will of over 70% of Michiganders and repealed the state’s protections against being forced to pay union dues or fees as a condition of employment. The repeal formally takes effect on February 12, 2024.
The legal notices are available at the Foundation’s website: https://www.nrtw.org/michigan-private-sector-notice/ (for private sector workers) https://www.nrtw.org/michigan-public-sector-notice/ (for public sector workers).
MI Public Sector Workers Can Still Refrain from Union Membership and Dues Payment
By repealing Michigan’s Right to Work law, Michigan politicians granted union officials the power to compel private sector workers to pay money to a union to keep their jobs. The legal notice explains that, despite this massive expansion of government-granted power for Michigan union bosses, private sector workers still have rights under federal law to refrain from formal union membership and to refuse to pay for union political or ideological expenditures, among other rights.
“[U]nder the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) workers subject to these forced fee arrangements cannot lawfully be compelled to be actual union members or pay full union dues to keep their jobs,” the notice reads.
As for public sector workers, the legal notice informs Michiganders that even though Michigan’s politicians have undone the state’s statutory protection against being forced to pay union bosses as a condition of employment, the repeal “does not—and cannot—strip [public sector] workers of their constitutional right” to refrain from funding union activities. The Supreme Court recognized public employees’ First Amendment right to abstain from union financial support in the 2018 Foundation-won Janus v. AFSCME ruling.
MI Union Bosses Still Can’t Force Private Sector Workers to Become Formal Members or Directly Support Union Politics
The notices inform Michigan private sector employees that, under the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Pattern Makers v. NLRB, independent-minded workers have a right to refrain from formal union membership. The Foundation-won CWA v. Beck Supreme Court ruling further holds that the most that union bosses can force nonmember workers to pay is a fee equal to “what the union can prove is its costs of collective bargaining, contract administration, and grievance adjustment with their employer.” This fee cannot include union expenses for political and ideological activities.
“Unions often fail to meet their legal obligation to inform workers of their right not to be a union member and to object to paying full union dues,” the notice reads. “In fact, unions oftentimes mislead workers to believe that they must join the union to keep their jobs.”
MI Private Sector Workers Have Right to Vote Out Unpopular Union Bosses
Private sector employees also have the right to petition for National Labor Relations Board-supervised “decertification elections,” which can strip union officials of their coercive powers of monopoly control over a work unit entirely.
Foundation attorneys assist hundreds of workers every year in exercising their legal right to obtain a vote to decertify unions of which they disapprove.
“Union boss allies in the Michigan Legislature foisted this repeal on workers for one reason: To enlarge the coffers of their favorite special interest,” commented National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “Instead of letting Michigan workers continue to enjoy the right to freely choose whether or not union officials have earned a cut of their hard-earned pay, Michigan legislators have granted union bosses a power that strips away basic free speech and association rights.”
“The truth is, even with this great expansion of their powers, Michigan union bosses will still try to look for ways to expand their powers beyond the law and compel more workers to associate with them,” Mix added. “That’s why it’s important for Michiganders to know their rights in this new legal landscape; they should also know that Foundation attorneys stand ready to defend the rights of any Michigan worker opposing union coercion.”
The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation is a nonprofit, charitable organization providing free legal aid to employees whose human or civil rights have been violated by compulsory unionism abuses. The Foundation, which can be contacted toll-free at 1-800-336-3600, assists thousands of employees in about 200 cases nationwide per year.