National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation attorneys filed an amicus brief in the Technical, Professional and Officeworkers Association of Michigan (TPOAM) v. Daniel Lee Renner case currently before the Michigan Supreme Court. In the case, Saginaw County employee Daniel Renner is contesting a union scheme designed to eliminate the Michigan Right to Work law’s protection against forcing employees to pay dues or fees as a condition of employment.
The Foundation’s brief argues that TPOAM bosses’ “fee-for-grievance” arrangement violates Michigan’s Right to Work law, as it weaponizes union bosses’ extraordinary power over the grievance process in order to coerce nonmember workers forced under the union’s monopoly contract into paying union fees. Because workers under union monopoly bargaining “representation” do not have the power to file meaningful grievances themselves, the brief argues, this is a blatant attempt to gut the Right to Work law and allow union bosses to force nonmembers to financially support unions.
Both the Michigan Employment Relations Committee (MERC) and the Michigan Court of Appeals have already rejected union officials’ arguments that they can refuse to file grievances for nonmembers unless nonmembers pay union fees. In Renner’s case, union officials demanded upwards of $1,000 from him.
“The legislature’s inclusion of [Right to Work] provisions shows a specific intent to outlaw compulsory grievance fee schemes like those successfully challenged here,” the Foundation’s brief says.
Union Officials Already Maintain Full Control over Grievances – Often to Detriment of Workers
Union officials for decades have had the privilege under federal and state law to control every aspect of the grievance process in a workplace where they are in power. This already often gives them the latitude to toss out or slow-walk grievances they do not think are in the union’s interest.
In fact, in Michigan, two federal lawsuits are pending in which rank-and-file employees under the monopoly control of United Auto Workers (UAW) union officials accuse the union of mishandling grievances. The cases together involve nearly 100 Stellantis (formerly Fiat Chrysler) employees challenging UAW officials’ inexplicable mishandling or withdrawal of grievances workers had filed regarding pay cuts or illicit employee transfers.
Foundation staff attorneys have aided Michigan workers in defending their Right to Work freedoms in well over 100 cases since the Wolverine State’s Right to Work law was enacted in 2012.
“Having faced defeat time and time again in the state legislature, Michigan union bosses and their political cronies are now trying to use the courts to eliminate Right to Work and reinstall their forced-dues reign in the Wolverine State,” commented National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “It’s worth pointing out, however, that the enormous power union officials enjoy under state law to impose their ‘representation’ on all employees in a workplace, union members or not, is the only thing that let them create the scheme which sparked this conflict in the first place.”
“While employees’ right to abstain from membership or dues payment to an unwanted union should always be protected, union officials shouldn’t be able to force their control on employees who don’t want and never asked for it,” Mix added.
The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation is a nonprofit, charitable organization providing free legal aid to employees whose human or civil rights have been violated by compulsory unionism abuses. The Foundation, which can be contacted toll-free at 1-800-336-3600, assists thousands of employees in around 250 cases nationwide per year.