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Sterling Employment Law

Michigan in dispute with state employee labor unions

Unions representing tens of thousands of Michigan state employees are currently negotiating with the state regarding contracts that are set to expire at the end of December. The negotiations have unfortunately stalled due to disagreements on wages and benefits. These negotiations are the first since Michigan implemented a right to work law that critics say dilutes the strength of unions and that the unions claim should not apply to state workers.

As a result of their inability to resolve this employment dispute, each side has filed a request with the court to create an "impasse panel" to make recommendations in case the parties cannot reach an agreement by the deadline. A spokesperson for the state issued a statement that the parties will continue to try to resolve their differences. However, in the event that a resolution cannot be reached, the impasse panel would be asked for recommendations. Creating the panel in advance will allow the members to be prepared should their services become necessary.

One union opposed the state's suggestion that all employees be placed on a single health care plan. However, the state argued that the proposal would save both workers and the state money in the long run. Another point of contention is the state's proposal regarding wages, which was criticized as inadequate. One union stated that the employees gave up a lot during the last round of negotiations in 2011 and are not willing to do so now.

When employment disputes arise, an attorney may be able to help negotiate new employment agreements or severance packages. It may also be possible for the attorney to help file suit for unpaid wages, benefits not received or any violation of state or federal employment laws.

Source: M Live, "State employee unions, Michigan at odds over wages and benefits: 'We're in for one hell of a fight'", Jonathan Oosting, October 30, 2013

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