What the New Michigan Right-to-Work Law Does… and Doesn’t Do….

Many people confuse Right-to-Work laws with the Employment at Will concept. Employment at Will is a common law concept standing for some variation of the rule that either the employee or the employer can terminate employment at any time for any reason, with or without notice. Right-to-Work laws prohibit a Union from including in the collective bargaining agreement a provision making it a condition of work that an employee join the union (and pay dues) or be terminated. When employees don’t have to join and pay dues, they often do not do so.

When Wisconsin passed its much attacked public employer legislation, public sector union members quit paying dues in droves.

There are a lot of ripple effects to this legislation. Because Right-to-Work laws have some limiting effect on union organization, new businesses admit that they may choose a state based in part on its Right-to-Work status, which has certainly benefitted the South. Some pundits speculate that Michigan’s move will bring pressure on Ohio to pass similar legislation because neighboring Indiana passed a Right-to-Work law and is touting the law as another reason to locate business in Indiana.

There are limits to the new Michigan law. As with the recent Indiana right-to-work law, the Michigan law applies only to agreements that take effect or are extended or renewed after the effective date of the Act. For future contracts, however, the impact will be substantial: public- and private-sector employees in the state will no longer have to pay union dues, or their equivalent, to hold certain jobs, and it will be unlawful for a collective bargaining agreement to include union-shop or mandatory dues check-off arrangements.

We have pasted an Alert providing more detail at the Fisher & Phillips LLP website: http://www.laborlawyers.com/shownews.aspx?Show=20281

About mavity2012

I am a Senior Partner operating out of the Atlanta office of Fisher & Phillips LLP, one of the Nation’s oldest and largest management employment and labor firms. My practice is national and keeps me on the road or in one of our 28 offices about 50 percent of the time. I created and co-chair the Firm's Workplace Safety and Catastrophe Management Practice Group. I have almost 29 years of experience as a labor lawyer, but rely even more heavily on the experience I gained in working in my family's various businesses, and through dealing with practical client issues. Employers tell me that they seldom meet an attorney who delivers on his promise to provide practical guidance and to be a business partner. As a result, some executives probably use different terms than “practical” to describe my fellow travelers in the profession. I don't enjoy the luxury of being impractical because I spend much of my time on shop floors and construction sites dealing with safety, union and related issues which are driven by real world processes and the need to protect and get the most out of one's most important business assets ... its employees. That's one of the reasons that I view safety compliance as a way to also manage problem employees, reduce litigation and develop the type of work environment that makes unions unnecessary. Starting out dealing with union-management challenges and a stint in the NLRB have better equipped me to see the interrelationship of legal and workplace factors. I am proud also of my experience at Fisher & Phillips, where providing “practical advice” is second only to legal excellence among the Firm’s values. Our website lists me as having provided counsel for over 225 occasions of union activity, guided unionized companies, and as having managed approximately 450 OSHA fatality cases in construction and general industry, ranging from dust explosions to building collapses, in virtually every state. I have coordinated complex inspections involving multi-employer sites, corporate-wide compliance, and issues involving criminal referral. As a full labor lawyer, I oversee audits of corporate labor, HR, and safety compliance. I have responded to virtually every type of day-to-day workplace inquiry, and have handled cases before the EEOC, OFCCP, NLRB, and numerous other state and federal agencies. At F & P, all of us seek to spot issues and then rely upon attorneys in the Firm who concentrate on those areas. No tunnel vision. I teach or speak around 50 times per year to business associations, bar and professional groups, and to individual businesses. I serve on safety committees at three states’ AGC Chapters, teach at the AGC ASMTC
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