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State, unions open contract talks; right-to-work at issue

The Toad

The state of Michigan opens negotiations today with employee unions, and one of the big questions is how the state’s new right-to-work law will affect the bargaining.

The unions say the right-to-work law does not cover state civil service workers. They say the law is trumped by the independence of the state’s civil service system. They say that’s how the Michigan Constitution set it up.

Governor Rick Snyder’s administration says right-to-work does apply to state employees. How that question is resolved could help determine the unions’ bargaining clout. The right-to-work law allows workers to opt out of paying union dues or fees, although they do keep many union protections. 

The state and public employee unions are already in court on the same question. A ruling could come anytime from the Michigan Court of Appeals. 


Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987.