Michigan Civil Service Commission approves rule change for deducting union dues from employee paychecks
On July 13, the Michigan Civil Service Commission voted 3-1 in favor of a rule change requiring unionized state employees to authorize union dues deductions from their paychecks on an annual basis.
What is at issue?
Rule 6-7 of Michigan’s Civil Service Rules had allowed for the deduction of union dues from workers’ paychecks, subject to their consent. The rule did not establish an expiration date for dues deduction authorizations:
“If agreed to in a collective bargaining agreement, the state may deduct the dues or service fee of a member of an exclusively represented bargaining unit through payroll deduction. An appointing authority cannot deduct membership dues or service fees unless the employee has made a voluntary authorization. The director shall establish the exclusive process for employees to authorize or deauthorize deduction of dues or fees.”
Under the rule change which takes effect Sept. 1, workers must consent to dues deductions annually. If a worker does not authorize dues deductions between now and Sept. 1, dues deductions will be automatically cancelled.
What is the Michigan Civil Service Commission, and how did the vote split?
The Michigan Civil Service Commission is a state agency that regulates all conditions of employment for classified state employees. The governor appoints the commission’s four members to staggered eight-year terms.
Gov. Rick Snyder (R) appointed all four current members of the commission. Three members – James Barrett, Jase Bolger, and Jeff Steffel – voted to approve the rule change. Commission chair Janet McClelland voted against it. Bolger and Barrett are registered with the Republican Party. Steffel and McClelland are registered independents.
What are the reactions?
- Bolger said the rule change is a “protection of rights” for state employees: “I do not agree with claims that it impacts rights to collective bargaining. Instead, unions will be able to make their case, but I do believe it protects individual workers’ rights. Workers will remain free to make their choice.”
- Ron Bieber, president of the Michigan affiliate of the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), said, “This action has no other purpose than to impose arbitrary hardships on bargaining units, create turmoil in workplaces during a historic pandemic and a global recession, and disrupt the work that unions do on behalf of these state workers. It’s unconstitutional, it’s unsupported by any recent laws or court decisions, and it’s just plain wrong. They should be ashamed.
Relation to Janus v. AFSCME
- Vincent Vernuccio, senior fellow for the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, discussed the rule change in relation to the Supreme Court’s 2018 decision in Janus v. AFSCME: “In 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court issued the [Janus] decision that did two things, both of which are being updated for the rule change here. The first, it basically gave right to work for state employees throughout the country. The second, in what Justice [Samuel] Alito called ‘affirmative consent,’ it required an opt-in provision to protect the public employees’ First Amendment rights.”
- Chuck Browning, director of the United Auto Workers Region 1A, disputed the application of Janus as a justification for the rule change: “As the court itself noted, ‘States can keep their labor relations systems exactly as they are.’ Only that they don’t have to force non-members to subsidize public sector unions. Janus, therefore, does not justify the proposed rule change.”
What we’ve been reading
- Lexology, “Virginia General Assembly makes pro-employee changes to state laws,” July 15, 2020
- Washington Examiner, “Ohio public employees win settlement in ‘limited window’ union dues case,” July 15, 2020
- In These Times, “The Public Sector’s Right to Strike Is Left Behind in Biden-Bernie Task Force Compromise,” July 9, 2020
The big picture
Number of relevant bills by state
We are currently tracking 97 pieces of legislation dealing with public-sector employee union policy. On the map below, a darker shade of green indicates a greater number of relevant bills. Click here for a complete list of all the bills we’re tracking.
Number of relevant bills by current legislative status
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Recent legislative actions
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