This being America, no good deed goes unlitigated, but sometimes the good deed still wins. So it is in Michigan, where on Wednesday the state Supreme Court turned a union lawsuit on its head and said the state’s right-to-work law applies to 36,000 government workers.Choice wins one.
In 2012 Michigan passed a right-to work statute that lets workers decide whether to join a union and thus pay union dues. The United Auto Workers (UAW), which represents 17,000 state workers, brought a lawsuit claiming the law doesn’t apply to its members because their employment terms are set by the Michigan Civil Service Commission.
Bad call. The Civil Service Commission had long held that, while public employees could opt out of the union, they had to pay union fees. On Wednesday the Supreme Court ruled 4-3 that the commission had no such constitutional authority “to compel civil service employees to make involuntary financial contributions.” Justice Robert Young wrote for the majority that the commission’s rule amounted to a form of taxation, and the power to tax is held exclusively by the legislature.
This is great news for self-government, empowering an elected legislature over courts and an unelected bureaucracy. But it’s even better news for state employees, who will now be able to decide if they want to pay the fees that finance an organization whose purpose and practices they may not support.
Thursday, July 30, 2015
Sometimes Right Things Win
The Wall Street Journal reports: