Labor Pains: Because Being in a Union can be Painful

Michigan Unions’ All-Out Assault on Employee Rights

Photo via Flickr user david_shane - Used with with Creative Commons Attribution LicenseAfter a union-pushed proposal to forbid such a measure failed in a referendum, Michigan recently passed a right-to-work law granting employees the right to opt out of paying union dues and mandatory “agency fees.” Michigan’s law takes effect next week, which will make the longtime union spiritual home the 24th right-to-work state, and second in the Midwest (after no. 23, Indiana).

Unions remain livid at this effort to offer employees choice in where their money goes. Since Michigan employers in both the private and the public sectors will be unable to institute so-called “union security clauses” in contracts agreed after next week, Michigan unions will actually have to provide a useful service that satisfies employees’ needs to keep collecting dues. The Wall Street Journal now reports on a new tactic Big Labor is trying to keep rooting in the pockets of employees who might not be satisfied:

Wednesday, the board of governors for Detroit’s Wayne State University approved an unusually lengthy contract that keeps mandatory collection of union dues in place for eight years. At the University of Michigan’s three campuses, similar contracts affecting 11,000 workers and stretching as long as five years have been tentatively approved and await ratification by union members.

For comparison, conventional collective bargaining agreements last three years. The Legislature is not taking kindly to this behavior in the public sector and is considering a bill to restore employee rights. As for the unions, a local public radio report says they claim:

Wayne State University’s faculty union is hoping to protect its members from the impact of Michigan’s right-to-work law, which takes effect in the spring. The union wants the university to lock dues into its next contract for 10 years, to shield members from the law banning mandatory membership and fees as a condition of employment. (Emphases added.)

You read that right—the union apparently thinks that it “protects” and “shields” employees by locking them into forced dues arrangements for up to a decade. How are employees responding to this plainly Orwellian maneuver? The Journal notes that employees are taking action to halt this union power grab:

Meanwhile, a conservative-leaning public-interest law foundation has filed suit on behalf of three teachers in Taylor, Mich., alleging that a new clause in their teachers’ contract to continue mandatory union dues for the next 10 years was improper.

Unions are using these last days of Michigan forced unionism to keep their hands in employees’ pockets for years on end. This, like the secret-ballot-abolishing “Employee Free Choice Act” (EFCA) shows how little unions actually respect “free choice,” and why the Employee Rights Act is needed to protect employees against the abuses of big unionism.

Categories: AFL-CIOCenter for Union FactsNewsTeachers Unions