Recently, the Michigan Senate approved legislation to repeal the state’s “right-to-work” law, which has been in place since 2012.
The “right-to-work” law prohibits union-security agreements, which required private and/or public employees to pay union dues or services fees as a condition of obtaining or continuing employment. Employees in unionized jobs who opted out of the union are still afforded rights and benefits that are collectively bargained for by the union as members of the bargaining unit.
The bill will now return to the Michigan House for a vote before being sent to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, who has indicated that she will sign the bill into law. Once passed, the legislation will go into effect 90 days after the Legislature adjourns this year.
As a result, private sector labor unions will be able to require all workers they represent to pay membership dues or an equivalent amount of fees.
All employers, both unionized and non-unionized, should note this decision. Under the new law, workers who do not want to join a union but who work at a union shop that requires fee payment as a condition of employment will be required to pay the fees or leave their job. This may create vacancies in the workforce for which unionized employers should prepare themselves to recruit new employees to fill.
Additionally, all employers, including non-unionized employers, should anticipate greater unionization and bargaining efforts by their workforce, as well as unions, which will have expanded operating budgets due to the legislation.
Before the law goes into effect, employers should consult legal counsel to understand their rights and responsibilities under the anticipated new framework.