Workers defend free choice for workers against spurious union boss legal challenge
Detroit, MI (December 27, 2013) – Today, a federal court judge accepted an amicus curiae brief filed by four Michigan workers defending Michigan's recently-enacted Right to Work law from a union legal challenge pending before the court.
With free legal assistance from National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys, Terry Bowman, Brian Pannebecker, Aaric Lewis, and Robert Harris filed the brief last week with the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan.
The case is a federal lawsuit filed by Michigan State AFL-CIO union officials seeking to overturn the law, arguing that because federal law preempts the enforcement of state Right to Work laws in certain limited respects, the whole law is invalid.
In the brief, Foundation staff attorneys point out that the twenty-four state private-sector Right to Work laws are protected under federal labor law and cite various federal and state precedents that support their argument. Despite several prior preemption challenges to other state Right to Work laws, there is not a single case invalidating a Right to Work law.
All four workers are or were employed in workplaces where a forced dues contract was in place between their employers and union hierarchies before the Right to Work law was enacted. Consequently, the workers could be forced to pay union dues or fees just to keep their jobs, despite the fact they do not belong to the union nor sought the union's so-called "representation."
Michigan's Right to Work law states that no employee can be required to pay union dues as a condition of employment, but forced dues contracts between unions and employers entered into prior to the law's effective date remain in force throughout the state until they expire.
"After suffering a major legislative defeat and being rejected by voters when they attempted to entrench forced unionism in the Michigan Constitution, Michigan union bosses are now seeking to strike down Michigan's Right to Work law in the courts," said Mark Mix, President of the National Right to Work Foundation. "Workers shouldn't be forced to join or pay tribute to a union just to keep a job, which is why we applaud these workers for standing up to protect their Right to Work."