Gov. Snyder asks high court to revise right-to-work law

Gov. Rick Snyder asked the Michigan Supreme Court Monday to review the state’s new right-to-work laws to determine if they pass constitutional judgment.

The new laws, adopted Dec. 11, make it illegal to require financial support of a union as a condition of employment.

The Michigan Civil Service Commission has questioned whether the right-to-work laws can be applied to employees in classified state civil service jobs, the Detroit Free Press reported.

Griffin Endowed Chair in American Government Maxine Berman said by sending the law to the Supreme Court, Snyder is making a rare move.

“Asking the Supreme Court for a review is not common, but has been done before,” she said. “The governor is probably trying to speed up a process that may inevitably land in the Supreme Court, where he has a lot of allies.”

Outside of the Supreme Court, Berman said there is no other place for the bill to go.

“The Supreme Court is the court of last resort in Michigan,” she said. “I do not believe there are any federal issues involved.”

Opponents of the bill said Snyder’s request was a cynical maneuver to bypass the lower court judges who might prevent the bill from taking effect while it winds its way through the court system.

Labor union groups have said they plan to do everything possible to fight the bill, including possibly challenging it on constitutional grounds.

However, Berman doesn’t believe this will do much good.

“I believe labor has said it will challenge the law,” she said. “I see few, if any, possibilities of the law being changed unless both houses of the Legislature and the governor were Democrats.”

The Supreme Court currently has a 4-2 Republican majority and one vacancy since Justice Diana Hathaway, a Democrat, resigned last week over bank fraud accusations. Snyder will appoint someone to replace Hathaway.

“If a lower court overturned the law, it would cause more political problems for the governor, even though it would eventually be upheld in the Supreme Court,” Berman said.

Calls made by Central Michigan Life to state Rep. Kevin Cotter, R-Mount Pleasant, for comment were not returned.

The laws are one of the most divisive in recent state history.

The Michigan State Police spent more than $900,000 on Capitol security during the week of Dec. 5, 2012 through Dec. 12, 2012, when the legislation was pushed through the Legislature, according to figures from the State Police. Heated pro-labor protests took place throughout that week.

MSP reported spending $802,956 on overtime and another $98,176 on miscellaneous costs such as travel, supplies and equipment.

MSP Sgt. Sumpter said the Mount Pleasant post sent a squad of troopers, a lieutenant and a sergeant to the capital during the protests.

The laws contain provisions that would keep it from being repealed through a referendum.

The right-to-work laws apply to all public and private-sector employees, excluding police and firefighters.

Opponents argue they hurt union finances and make it difficult for them to fairly negotiate for wages and benefits. Supporters say workers have a right to choose whether or not to pay dues with their own money and that the laws promote fairness in the workplace.

Michigan is the nation’s 24th right-to-work state.


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