On October 15, 2020, the National Right to Work Committee reported that a Michigan Civil Service policy designed to protect the First Amendment rights of Michigan’s state workers under the pivotal Janus v. AFSCME Supreme Court remains intact after United Auto Workers (UAW) union leaders dropped their lawsuit attempting to overturn the rule in federal court.
The MICSC adopted this rule in October after National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys provided detailed input. The rule mandates that Michigan state agencies get the consent of state employees before gathering union dues from their wages on an annual basis. The rule serves as a reminder to state employees of their constitutional right to reject such payments and guarantee that the state not take union dues unless workers rescind their right to pay beforehand.
National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix commented on this news:
The Civil Service Commission rule’s endurance is a victory for Michigan state employees, who will now have their First Amendment right to refuse to subsidize union activities respected and safeguarded. That union officials so quickly dropped their attempts to scuttle the rule speaks to the strength of the legal case for it, namely that the Supreme Court clearly delineated in Janus v. AFSCME that union dues can only be taken from public employees’ paychecks with their affirmative and knowing consent.
Given this example, public officials in other states should enact similar measures to protect their workers, because union bosses across the country continue to manipulate state laws and internal union policies to keep workers trapped in union payments against their will in violation of their First Amendment rights.
The UAW officials’ decision to withdraw from their lawsuit came after the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan’s rejection of their request for a preliminary injunction against the rule earlier in October. Judge George Caram Steeh declared in a ruling that union lawyers not only failed to demonstrate that the rule was causing “irreparable harm” but that a recent Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals suit ended union leaders’ ability to submit one of the two claims in their suit in the first place.
The District Court’s decision rejecting the injunction alluded to arguments first brought up in an amicus brief from National Right to Work Foundation and Mackinac Center Legal Foundation staff attorneys. The judge describe these arguments as “timely and helpful.”
Other states are joining in trying to strengthen their public employees’ Janus rights. In Alaska, Governor Mike Dunleavy signed an executive order established similar protections for state employees back in September 2019. In addition, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill put forward legal opinions earlier in 2020 calling on public employers to inform employees of their First Amendment right to reject funding a union unless they consent to such payments.