Michigan On Track To Become 24th Right-To-Work State

by Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C.

On December 6, 2012, the Michigan Senate passed two bills (SB 116 and HB 4003) and the House passed one bill (HB 4052), making Michigan poised to become the 24th state with a right-to-work law. These bills would prohibit any requirement that employees be forced to join a union or pay an agency fee to a union as a term or condition of employment. SB 116 and HB 4052 are identical and apply to private sector employees. While HB 4003 applies to public sector employees, it creates an exemption for police and firefighters from the right-to-work provisions. Even though it was passed by the House, HB 4052 has not been reported to the Senate for procedural reasons. Nevertheless, the House is expected to pass SB 116 and HB 4003, as amended by the Senate, and Governor Rick Snyder has indicated that he will sign the bills if they reach his desk.   

Presently, Michigan’s labor relations laws specifically protect the ability of unions and employers to include requirements that employees either join the union or pay an agency fee, which represents the employee’s pro rata share of the union’s cost to represent employees but excludes money spent by the union for political causes. If these bills become law, employees will be able to choose whether or not they want to be dues-paying members of a union. 

Specifically, these bills prohibit any term or condition of employment that requires an employee to 1) join a union; 2) refrain from joining a union; or 3) pay union dues, agency fees, or money to a third party in lieu of such dues or fees. If an employer and a union enter into any agreements containing provisions in violation of the amendments, such agreements would be unlawful and unenforceable. A person, employer, or union violating the new subsection would be liable for a civil fine of up to $500. 

The bills also proscribe using force, intimidation, or unlawful threats to attempt to influence an employee’s decision whether to join or refrain from joining a union. A person violating this requirement would also be liable for a civil fine of up to $500. Finally, the bills create a cause of action for a person who suffers an injury as the result of a violation of the new restrictions. Such an individual may bring a civil action for damages and/or injunctive relief. If successful, the courts will be required to award reasonable costs and attorneys’ fees to the prevailing plaintiff. 

If SB 116 and HB 4003 are approved, they will be effective 90 days after they are signed. However, the new requirements will not affect any collective bargaining agreements (CBAs) that are in existence at the time of the effective date. Any agreements that take effect, are extended, or renewed after the effective date will be bound by the provisions of the bills. Thus, unions that currently have CBAs requiring the payment of dues or agency fees will only be guaranteed those fees until their current CBAs expire. Any similar provisions contained in a new CBA will be unenforceable. Even if the parties agree simply to extend or renew an existing CBA, those terms requiring dues payments will cease to be effective upon the expiration of the current CBA as well. 

Legal challenges to the bills and political action in 2014 by union groups are expected. The legal process will likely run its course more quickly than usual because the bills provide exclusive original jurisdiction in an expedited manner to the Michigan Court of Appeals for any action challenging the validity of the sections containing the most controversial changes. In the meantime, employers may experience protests and civil disobedience, given organized labor’s strong opposition to the bills. In a deft legislative maneuver, the bills also provide for appropriations to the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs in order to inform the public about its rights under the bills and to implement their new requirements. By including specific appropriations in these bills, they cannot be repealed by a voter referendum, unless a court finds a defect that would allow submitting the bills to the referendum process. 

SB 116 and HB 4003 represent a significant change in labor relations policy in the state of Michigan, shifting from a policy of union protectionism to one of individual rights. The imminent passage of these bills provides an opportunity for Michigan employers to reassess their relationships with the unions that represent their employees. With a thoughtful and well-developed strategy and careful counseling, employers should be able to take advantage of this policy shift.

Additional Information

Ogletree Deakins has a team of experienced labor attorneys, who are ready to assist Michigan employers in maximizing the opportunities that these bills create. For more information, please contact the Ogletree Deakins attorney with whom you normally work or the Client Services Department via email at clientservices@ogletreedeakins.com.

Note: This article was published in the December 10, 2012 issue of the Michigan eAuthority.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

© Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C. | Attorney Advertising

Written by:

Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C.

Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C. on:

Readers' Choice 2017
Reporters on Deadline

"My best business intelligence, in one easy email…"

Your first step to building a free, personalized, morning email brief covering pertinent authors and topics on JD Supra:
Sign up using*

Already signed up? Log in here

*By using the service, you signify your acceptance of JD Supra's Privacy Policy.
Custom Email Digest
Privacy Policy (Updated: October 8, 2015):

JD Supra provides users with access to its legal industry publishing services (the "Service") through its website (the "Website") as well as through other sources. Our policies with regard to data collection and use of personal information of users of the Service, regardless of the manner in which users access the Service, and visitors to the Website are set forth in this statement ("Policy"). By using the Service, you signify your acceptance of this Policy.

Information Collection and Use by JD Supra

JD Supra collects users' names, companies, titles, e-mail address and industry. JD Supra also tracks the pages that users visit, logs IP addresses and aggregates non-personally identifiable user data and browser type. This data is gathered using cookies and other technologies.

The information and data collected is used to authenticate users and to send notifications relating to the Service, including email alerts to which users have subscribed; to manage the Service and Website, to improve the Service and to customize the user's experience. This information is also provided to the authors of the content to give them insight into their readership and help them to improve their content, so that it is most useful for our users.

JD Supra does not sell, rent or otherwise provide your details to third parties, other than to the authors of the content on JD Supra.

If you prefer not to enable cookies, you may change your browser settings to disable cookies; however, please note that rejecting cookies while visiting the Website may result in certain parts of the Website not operating correctly or as efficiently as if cookies were allowed.

Email Choice/Opt-out

Users who opt in to receive emails may choose to no longer receive e-mail updates and newsletters by selecting the "opt-out of future email" option in the email they receive from JD Supra or in their JD Supra account management screen.


JD Supra takes reasonable precautions to insure that user information is kept private. We restrict access to user information to those individuals who reasonably need access to perform their job functions, such as our third party email service, customer service personnel and technical staff. However, please note that no method of transmitting or storing data is completely secure and we cannot guarantee the security of user information. Unauthorized entry or use, hardware or software failure, and other factors may compromise the security of user information at any time.

If you have reason to believe that your interaction with us is no longer secure, you must immediately notify us of the problem by contacting us at info@jdsupra.com. In the unlikely event that we believe that the security of your user information in our possession or control may have been compromised, we may seek to notify you of that development and, if so, will endeavor to do so as promptly as practicable under the circumstances.

Sharing and Disclosure of Information JD Supra Collects

Except as otherwise described in this privacy statement, JD Supra will not disclose personal information to any third party unless we believe that disclosure is necessary to: (1) comply with applicable laws; (2) respond to governmental inquiries or requests; (3) comply with valid legal process; (4) protect the rights, privacy, safety or property of JD Supra, users of the Service, Website visitors or the public; (5) permit us to pursue available remedies or limit the damages that we may sustain; and (6) enforce our Terms & Conditions of Use.

In the event there is a change in the corporate structure of JD Supra such as, but not limited to, merger, consolidation, sale, liquidation or transfer of substantial assets, JD Supra may, in its sole discretion, transfer, sell or assign information collected on and through the Service to one or more affiliated or unaffiliated third parties.

Links to Other Websites

This Website and the Service may contain links to other websites. The operator of such other websites may collect information about you, including through cookies or other technologies. If you are using the Service through the Website and link to another site, you will leave the Website and this Policy will not apply to your use of and activity on those other sites. We encourage you to read the legal notices posted on those sites, including their privacy policies. We shall have no responsibility or liability for your visitation to, and the data collection and use practices of, such other sites. This Policy applies solely to the information collected in connection with your use of this Website and does not apply to any practices conducted offline or in connection with any other websites.

Changes in Our Privacy Policy

We reserve the right to change this Policy at any time. Please refer to the date at the top of this page to determine when this Policy was last revised. Any changes to our privacy policy will become effective upon posting of the revised policy on the Website. By continuing to use the Service or Website following such changes, you will be deemed to have agreed to such changes. If you do not agree with the terms of this Policy, as it may be amended from time to time, in whole or part, please do not continue using the Service or the Website.

Contacting JD Supra

If you have any questions about this privacy statement, the practices of this site, your dealings with this Web site, or if you would like to change any of the information you have provided to us, please contact us at: info@jdsupra.com.

- hide
*With LinkedIn, you don't need to create a separate login to manage your free JD Supra account, and we can make suggestions based on your needs and interests. We will not post anything on LinkedIn in your name. Or, sign up using your email address.