Is Forced Unionization Returning to Michigan?

The Detroit News reported that during the administration of former Governor Jennifer Granholm, thousands of self-employed day care and home health care workers were compelled to join a union if they accepted state payments for their services. However, years of legal and legislative efforts by the NFIB and organizations brought an end to these forced union agreements.

Now, the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulation (LARA) is working to craft new rules that would make union membership mandatory for employees who want to obtain a license to grow or sell marijuana under Michigan’s new marijuana legalization policies.

Language in this proposal for Michigan marijuana licensing requires unionization of marijuana retailers and growers as a condition of obtaining the state-mandated license in order to be in business.

As Charles Owens of The Detroit News explained succinctly, “No labor union, no license, no business.”

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He also raised a good point.

Regardless of one’s viewpoint on the issue of marijuana legalization and distribution, if a state agency can require the employees of a specific company in a specific industry to be union members in order to receive a license to conduct business in the state, it can impose the same requirement on any trade or business that requires a license from the state to operate.

Like many states, Michigan licenses all sorts of businesses from preschools to tattoo parlors. If this marijuana unionization scheme goes through, it could establish a precedent that would affect thousands of small businesses.

The Whitmer administration’s move to unionize is based on legislation that was recently passed in California which mandates that employers with 20 or more employees keep a “labor peace agreement” as a condition of acquiring a state cannabis license. “Labor peace agreement” is a euphemism for mandatory unionization before getting a license. One difference from the California mandate, the Michigan rules contain no exemption from the union mandate based on the size of the business.

Because labor unions recognize that they cannot obtain similar legislation passed in Michigan, they rely upon the Whitmer administration to use public administration to give them benefits that they could otherwise not acquire in the Legislature from elected officials. Several weeks ago, the Whitmer administration announced a similar measure to go around the Legislature to enact new overtime requirements via the rules process.

Indeed, labor unions will do what it takes to impose their will on workers who refuse to join their organizations. When they can’t buy off politicians to carry out their forced unionization agenda, unions will rely on bureaucratic tyranny to get their plans rolling.

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