Judge won’t block policy on union dues from state workers
DETROIT (AP) — A federal judge refused to halt a new policy that will reduce the flow of union dues paid by thousands of Michigan state workers unless they personally authorize them each year.
The rule by the Michigan Civil Service Commission was challenged by labor unions as a violation of the U.S. Constitution’s contracts clause and the First Amendment. But U.S. District Judge George Caram Steeh turned down a request for an injunction.
“A yearly reauthorization requirement for payroll deductions ... does not implicate the First Amendment,” Steeh said Thursday.
He noted that the commission has sent several emails to workers about how to renew their payroll deductions.
“Union members may renew their authorizations online, including on a mobile platform, or by phone. The state avers that the process takes under a minute to complete online,” the judge said.
The commission, whose members were appointed by Republican Rick Snyder when he was governor, made the change in July.
Seventy percent of Michigan’s 48,000 state employees are represented by a union. Slightly more than 26,000 had dues deducted in July.
A 2012 law prohibits an employer and a union from signing a contract that would require workers to pay dues or fees to a union.