Michigan court rules right-to-work law applies to state workers

Updated Aug 19, 2013

construction hard hatAfter becoming the 24th right-to-work state in the U.S. back in January, a Michigan appeals court ruled 2-1 Thursday that the legislation does in fact apply to state workers as well, according to a report from the Associated Press.

The law, passed in December, is meant to prevent workplaces from making union membership a requirement for employment. Specifically, it forbids private companies and the state from using the payment of union dues or fees a condition of employment.

Thousands of union members, who make up two-thirds of Michigan’s public workforce, opposed the law and protested at Michigan’s capitol building in December. The scene turned ugly. Union members argued that workers in other right-to-work states are forced to accept lower wages than they might enjoy in states without the law.

Michigan union members then filed a lawsuit over the legality of the law affecting state workers. That’s because Michigan’s Civil Service Commission has separate powers under the state’s constitution and sets compensation for state workers.

Nonetheless, the court sided with the workers’ “right to choose.”

“In light of the First Amendment rights at stake, the Michigan Legislature has made the policy decision to settle the matter by giving all employees the right to choose,” Judges Henry Saad and Pat Donofrio wrote.