The Building Tradesman Newspaper

Friday, October 18, 2013

No need to review RTW law, AG Schuette tells Michigan Supreme Court

By The Building Tradesman

LANSING – Don’t even bother.

That was the message Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette sent to the state Supreme Court on Oct. 7, as he urged the justices not to take up an appeal of the state’s right-to-work law that applies to public workers.

Before the state Supreme Court is a union appeal of a 2-1 Court of Appeals ruling issued Aug. 15, which said that one of the two right-to-work laws adopted by the Michigan Legislature last December does in fact apply to public workers. Unions for some 30,000 state employees affected by the RTW law argued that the state Civil Service Commission, not the state Legislature, has had historical jurisdiction over collective bargaining with state workers.

“There is no need for this court’s review because as the Court of Appeals correctly held, the laws prescribing the power of the Legislature and the Civil Service Commission in this area are so clear,” Schuette wrote in his legal brief to the Supreme Court. He adds later: “there is no compelling need for this court to review the Court of Appeals’ ruling.”

Majority opinions by the appeals court in this case were made by judges appointed by Republican governors. They ruled that the Civil Service Commission, even though it was established by the state Constitution, was “unaccountable” in their “ability to strip power away from the people.” The dissenting minority opinion in the case was issued by a Granholm appointee. She said the majority’s ruling “strips the Civil Service Commission of its regulatory supremacy.”

Ken Moore, president of the Michigan State Employees Association issued a statement after the Appeals Court ruling, saying that the Snyder Administration’s claim that RTW applies to all state employees in the Civil Service is “clearly unconstitutional.”

“In 1940, citizens were so fed up with the abuses in state government that they voted to adopt a constitutional amendment creating a Civil Service Commission,” Moore told MIRS News Service. “The Commission is charged with regulating all conditions of employment in the state civil service.  We're confident that the state civil service system of checks and balances will be upheld and that this ruling will not stand on appeal.”

The state Supreme Court has not indicated whether it will take up the case, which is of vital concern to more than 30,000 state workers – or simply drop it as the attorney general requests.