UAW Abandons Federal Lawsuit Seeking To Overturn Michigan Union Law

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Thomas Catenacci Energy & Environment Reporter
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The United Auto Workers union abandoned a lawsuit over a Michigan law, which mandates that public sector union workers reauthorize their union membership annually.

Judge George C. Steeh of the Eastern District Court of Michigan approved the United Auto Workers’ (UAW) request, and stipulated agreement with defendants, to dismiss the case entirely Wednesday. UAW filed the lawsuit on Sept. 3 along with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) and Service Employees International Union (SEIU).

“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,” said National Right to Work Foundation (NRTW) president Mark Mix in statement Thursday.

Workers leave an auto plant amidst the coronavirus pandemic on March 18 in Detroit, Michigan. (Jeff Kowalsky/AFP via Getty Images)

Workers leave an auto plant amidst the coronavirus pandemic on March 18 in Detroit, Michigan. (Jeff Kowalsky/AFP via Getty Images)

In July, the four-person Michigan Civil Service Commission (MiCSC), a bipartisan commission that regulates all conditions of state employment, approved the law changes in a 3-1 vote mandating that public sector union workers willingly consent to union membership every year. The four members of the MiCSC were the defendants listed in the lawsuit.

“This is part of a long-running campaign against working families in Michigan and across the country, pushed by billionaire-backed anti-worker groups,” UAW, AFSCME and SEIU said in a September joint statement. (RELATED: ‘Pro-Labor, Pro-Worker Administration’: Labor Leaders Expect Union Resurgence Under A Biden Presidency)

Mandating employees annually reauthorize their union membership violates the Contracts Clause of the U.S. Constitution, the unions argued. The Contracts Clause prevents states from passing laws “impairing the obligation of contracts.”

However, Steeh ruled that lawyers representing the unions failed to show “irreparable harm,” according to NRTW’s Thursday statement. NRTW, an organization that defends workers nationwide in union abuse cases, filed an amicus brief in the case.

“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,” Mix added.

NRTW represented Mark Janus in Janus vs. AFSCME, a 2018 landmark Supreme Court case. The court voted 5-4 in favor of Janus ruling that “non-union government workers cannot be required to pay union fees as a condition of working in public service,” according to the Liberty Justice Center.

Jase Bolger, a MiCSC commissioner and former Michigan state representative, said the Supreme Court’s decision in Janus vs. AFSCME justified the new regulations, The Detroit News reported.

The UAWAFSCME and SEIU collectively represent 3.7 million workers nationwide, according to Department of Labor filings.

The UAW declined to comment.

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