An advocate for west Michigan working families through collective action, education and community partnerships.
LANSING March 1, 2016– A Democratic state rep from southeast Michigan has introduced legislation that would allow unionized employees to vote on “right-to-work” policy at their workplace.
Should this pass, it would be good news for working men and women who had their workplace rights stripped from them when the union busting “right-to-work” legislation was rammed through a lame-duck legislature in 2012.
News of the legislation is being reported in today’s Lansing State Journal:
The bills would change Michigan’s controversial right-to-work laws to allow public and private employers to agree to all-union contracts if such contracts are supported by the employees. All employees in the bargaining group would then be compelled to pay union dues or so-called “fair-share fees,” a requirement made illegal by the 2012 right-to-work policies.
The proposed legislation — House Bills 5398 and 5399, sponsored by stateRep. Robert Kosowski, D-Westland — would require a majority of all employees in the bargaining group, or three-fourths of the employees actually voting, to support the changes for them to take effect.
“If the employees are upset that they have to pay, then they can vote no,” Kosowski said Monday. “It gives full authority to the union people.”
It isn’t clear how the bills would affect the state government workforce, where rules passed by the Michigan Civil Service Commission prohibit mandatory union fees.
“We are still in the process of reviewing the bills to determine if they are in compliance with current civil service rules and regulations,” said Kurt Weiss, a spokesman for both the commission and the state employer. “Leadership at both the Office of State Employer and Civil Service are taking a closer look at the bills to determine their position on the legislation.”
The Republican controlled Legislature has been unwilling to consider right-to-work changes from either side of the aisle. Both a Democrat-backed proposal to repeal the laws and a Republican-backed proposal to expand them have stalled in committee.
But Kosowski thinks his legislation offers a compromise because it “doesn’t abolish right-to-work, but it sure does soften the blow.”
Kosowski’s bills, introduced on Wednesday, were referred to the House Commerce & Trade Committee, chaired by state Rep. Joseph Graves, R- Argentine Township. Richard Adams, a state House spokesman, said Monday it was still early in the process and no decisions had yet been made on Kosowski’s bills.