The Building Tradesman Newspaper

Friday, August 23, 2013

Appeals Court upholds right-to-work for state civil service workers

By Marty Mulcahy, Editor

Michigan’s right-to-work law does apply to about 30,000 state employees, according to a state Court of Appeals ruling released Aug. 15.

After the state’s right-to-work laws (Public Acts 348 and 349) went into effect in March, unions for those state workers appealed, claiming that only the Michigan Civil Service Commission is constitutionally bound to handle all matters regarding state employment. A 2-1 majority of the Court of Appeals disagreed, effectively finding that the Michigan Legislature, which adopted the RTW law, has the ultimate authority over employee contracts.

The majority opinions were made by Judges Henry William Saad and Pat Donofrio, both appointees of Republican governors. They ruled the four-member Civil Service Commission is “unaccountable” in their ability to "strip this power away from the people,” and eliminating the people's “collective voice on a matter of constitutional importance.”

Dissenting Judge Elizabeth Gleicher, a Granholm appointee, said the ruling “strips the CSC of its regulatory supremacy.”

The ruling will likely be appealed to the Michigan Supreme Court. If it stands, the state’s government’s 30,000-or-so civil service employees could opt out of paying dues when their contract expires at the end of the year, yet still enjoy the benefits of their union contract.