DETROIT – As the country celebrates contributions of workers this Labor Day weekend,
a coalition of unions representing Michigan public employees is suing the Michigan Civil
Service Commission to stop capricious new rules attacking state employees’ first
amendment right to support their union and violating established contract provisions.
“We are disappointed, but not surprised that the Michigan Civil Service Commission is
choosing to blatantly ignore the carefully negotiated collective bargaining agreements
they themselves authorized in favor of political attacks. This is part of a long-running
campaign against working families in Michigan and across the country, pushed by
billionaire-backed anti-worker groups.
“It’s clear that the MCSC rule is meant to create burdens for members to freely associate
and be represented in the workplace. Now more than ever, these essential workers, who
serve the citizens of Michigan without fail, even during the 2020 pandemic, deserve the
right to be represented on crucial health and safety issues without hurdles. Dedicated
state employees are testing for COVID in Department of Health labs, distributing
unemployment benefits, providing healthcare, safeguarding our prison population, caring
for veterans, and keeping our roads, food and water supply safe, among many other duties.
Through their unions, they advocate for their families, for good jobs, and for quality public
services in Michigan.
“The Commission’s new rule requiring annual reauthorization of dues deduction conflicts
with our collective bargaining agreements, which the Commission previously approved, and
therefore violates the Contracts Clause of the U.S. Constitution. The Commission’s action
also interferes with our members’ freedom of association under the First and Fourteenth
Amendments to the Federal Constitution. These constitutional violations are particularly
galling at a time when these hardworking public workers are coping with providing service
to all Michiganders during the COVID-19 crisis.
“We ask that the US District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan uphold the Constitutional
rights of the members of UAW, AFSCME and SEIU.”
“At a time when we are stepping up to serve the public during the pandemic, the Michigan
Civil Service Commission is making it harder on us to have representation. They seem to think
it’s cute to play games with our union membership rights. I’d much rather they leave us to serve
the public in this difficult time and have our union protected from political interference,” said
Ed Mitchell, President of UAW Local 6000.
Tammy Porter, President of AFSCME Local 261 (Grand Rapids Home for Veterans) said “The fact
that the Civil Service Commission is fighting to change rules and take away more of our rights at
work during a pandemic is unbelievable. I have gone to work every day at the Grand Rapids Home
for Veterans, working hard to care for some of our nation’s most vulnerable heroes. I’ve seen so many
of my co-workers going above and beyond these last 6 months, putting ourselves and our families in
danger because of this disease. This is the thanks we get? We deserve better than this.”
“I’ve been working around 10 hours a day, six days a week at the Unemployment Insurance Agency,
trying to process all the skyrocketing claims so struggling Michiganders can keep a roof over their
heads and put food on the table,” said Roland Whitelow, a member of SEIU Local 517M who has been
an unemployment insurance agent in Detroit for 18 years. “State employees are dedicated to supporting
the people of our state, and all we ask for in return is fair treatment. I have three sons in college, a daughter
about to go to college, and all of them plus my wife are on my union-negotiated health insurance. Unions are
about protecting working families and the American Dream so we can have a better future, and that’s what
we’re fighting for in this case.”