Labor, Michigan Republicans — February 13, 2013 at 11:38 am

Lawsuit to strike down Michigan’s Right to Work law filed in federal court


This isn’t over, not by a long shot

Protesters fill the Michigan Capitol building last December to protest Right to Work legislation

On the heels of a lawsuit filed recently in the Ingham County District Court challenging the constitutionality of Michigan’s new Right to Work law, a coalition of unions has filed a similar lawsuit in federal court. The suit, which was filed in U.S. District Court in Detroit and assigned to Judge Stephen Murphy, claims that the law violates the rights of private sector union members who are covered under federal law rather than the laws of the state of Michigan:

The Michigan AFL-CIO, the Building and Trades Council, the Teamsters, SEIU, United Farm Workers and the United Food and Commercial Workers say the law that affects private-sector employees is a violation of the U.S. Constitution because those unions are covered by federal law and governed by the National Labor Relations Board, not state law.

“In their haste to enact right-to-work, the Legislature overreached,” said Andrew Nickelhoff, general counsel for the Michigan AFL-CIO. “This lawsuit only deals with the act that affects private-sector employees, because they’re covered under federal labor law.”

The lawsuit names the Michigan Employment Relations Commission; Steve Arwood, the director of the state Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs; Attorney General Bill Schuette and Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy as defendants. Worthy was added to represent all 83 county prosecutors in Michigan because they would be in a position to prosecute any criminal actions surrounding right-to-work activities in union shops.

Whether or not the move by Governor Snyder and his Republican colleagues will bring more jobs to the state is debatable. However, what is clear is that the main beneficiaries, at least for the foreseeable future, will be the lawyers who litigate these lawsuits. Flippancy aside, if the state legislature is forced to vote again, it’s unlikely that Republicans have enough votes to pass it a second time. And that is why the lawsuits are so very important.

Stay tuned, Michiganders. This is all far from being over with.

[Photo credit: Anne C. Savage, special to Eclectablog]

  • Please, please, please refrain from using the expression “Right To Work”. The very phrase is right wing framing that inaccurately depicts what this is. Either call it Right To Work For Less or Corporate Servitude laws.

    • It’s far too late to be worrying about that. Besides, they call it “Freedom to Work” now.

      • I guess we’ll have to agree to disagree on that one. I’m pretty good at framing, and I think that every time we use right wing framing, we give them power. It’s the same thing if we chose use terms like “redefine marriage” instead of equal marriage rights, “free market” instead of lawless market, or “job creators” instead of the wealthiest 1%.

        I’m a pretty bitter foe of the right wingers, but they are very good at framing, packaging, marketing, and repeating a term until it enters the popular vernacular.

  • majii

    Thanks for this info, Eclectablog. I am so happy to see that the unions and progressives in MI are not taking this new “RTW” law lying down.

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