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Michigan supreme court refuses to opine on right-to-work

Michigan's Supreme Court recently denied a request from the state's governor to opine on the constitutionality of the state's newly enacted right-to-work law. In denying the request, the court questioned whether granting the request would be an appropriate exercise of its judicial discretion. This refusal by the court may result in numerous court challenges of the controversial legislation.

Private and public employers are prohibited under the right-to-work law from requiring union dues from their employees. This may result in difficulties regarding state employees as their contracts expire at the end of the year. According to opponents, however, the new law is in conflict with the state's constitution, which gives the Civil Services Commission authority over state employees.

The governor had hoped to solicit an advisory opinion from the supreme court prior to the beginning of negotiations with state employees. State and local courts are seeing challenges to the law already. Because the supreme court did not issue an opinion, litigation that challenges the right-to-work legislation will be decided by circuit and appellate before going on to the supreme court.

Under the new law, Michigan workers can no longer be required by either employers or labor unions to pay membership dues to unions who bargain for them as a condition of their employment. Employees now have the right to choose not to financially support the unions. The new legislation seeks to protect employee rights by preventing agreements between employers and unions that either exclude workers who are not union members or require employees to pay dues to a union that negotiates an agreement that applies to all workers in a group. Workers may need to seek counsel from an experienced employment attorney for assistance in protecting their rights.

Source: Huffington Post, "Michigan Right To Work Court Challenges Could Be Possible After State Supreme Court Decision", July 08, 2013