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Criminal Justice & Legal System

Whitmer objects to civil service union rule switch

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The Michigan Civil Service Commission has adopted a rule that says state employees must decide every year whether they will pay union dues. A lawsuit is possible because state employee unions say the rule violates existing collective bargaining agreements.

The rule will also eliminate the fee paid by employees who opt of the union but are still represented in contract talks.

Union leaders say it’s part of a continuing effort to diminish union influence and workers’ rights.

Transportation technician Roderick Jackson is with the Service Employees International Union. He told the commission the new rule seems designed to diminish the power of state employee unions.

“This body should be making decisions to help the employees and their employers improve their working relationship instead of putting us in a fight to keep our ability to be represented and to negotiate fairly in contracts,” Jackson said.

Republican commission member Jase Bolger said it doesn’t take anything away from employees. He voted for the rule change.

“I do not agree that it impacts rights to collective bargaining. Instead, unions will remain free to make their case," Bolger said. "But I do believe that it does protect individual workers’ rights. Workers will remain free to make their choice.”

The rule will also eventually eliminate a fee paid by employees who opt out of the union. The fee helps pay the costs of contract bargaining. Governor Gretchen Whitmer opposes the new rule, but the independent commission has a Republican majority. All the members were appointed by Governor Whitmer’s predecessor, Rick Snyder.

The commission adopted the rule change on a three-to-one vote.

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