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Policy: Labor

Unions sue to overturn Michigan’s right-to-work law

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Politics,Beltway Confidential,Sean Higgins,Labor unions,Labor,Michigan,Right to work

A liberal coalition group has filed suit to get a Michigan court to throw out the state’s newly-adopted right-to-work law, arguing the state legislature violated open-meeting laws to pass the law.

The coalition includes the Michigan State AFL-CIO, the national AFL-CIO, the Change to Win coalition (which is lead by the Service Employees International Union and the Teamsters), the Michigan Education Association and individual liberal activists.

They claim that on Dec. 6, 2012, the state legislature deliberated on the right-to-work bill for four hours behind closed doors, turning away activists who wished to voice their opposition to it. This, they argue, violated the state’s Open Meetings Act, which in turn makes the law itself null and void.

“Regardless of how you feel about right-to-work laws, everyone has a stake in seeing that our government conducts business in a democratic and transparent way,” said Karla Swift, President of the Michigan State AFL-CIO, said in a statement emailed to reporters. “Any law passed while citizens were locked out of their capitol building should be struck down.”

The group’s complaint can be read here.

A spokeswoman for Republican Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, who signed the law, did not have a comment at presstime.

The lawsuit includes a lot of huffing and puffing that right-to-work laws are “controversial” and “strongly opposed by many citizens.” Despite this, aside from the open meetings issue, the lawsuit does not otherwise argue that the right-to-work law is invalid or unconstitutional. That indicates that the coalition thinks the open meeting claim is their one good shot at overturning the law.

They face an uphill battle in that regard, since the Michigan Supreme Court is likely to become even more Republican, according to the Detroit Free Press:

LANSING — Supreme Court Justice Diane Hathaway retires from the Michigan Supreme Court today amid allegations of bank fraud, clearing the way for Gov. Rick Snyder to appoint a replacement and increase the GOP advantage on the court to 5-2.

Late last month, Snyder dealt another blow to Michigan unions, signing a new municipal emergency manager bill giving the mangers the power to re-write or even terminate union contracts.

 

 

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