LANSING (AP) – Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder signed a measure Friday banning public schools from automatically deducting union dues from the paychecks of teachers and other employees, a move that unions consider another attack on collective bargaining rights.
Supporters said the new law will put more money in teachers’ paychecks, and they could then pay their union dues if they wish.
The law also requires public employee unions to file an independent audit of money spent on collective bargaining, administering contracts and dealing with grievances with the Michigan Employment Relations Commission, which must make the audits available on its website.
“This legislation furthers the goal of good government by promoting greater transparency and ensuring that public resources are used solely for their intended purposes,” the Republican governor said in a news release. Schools collecting union dues or service fees may continue to do so until the current contract expires.
Opponents called the measure “a clear case of political retaliation” against union members who recently began gathering signatures to place a measure on the November ballot that would enshrine collective bargaining rights in the state constitution. They said it’s an attempt to weaken the membership and finances of teachers’ unions, making it more difficult to collect dues from members.
“While Gov. Snyder continually has said divisive issues are not on his agenda and that his top priority is jobs, his willingness to sign off on such blatant attacks on collective bargaining rights tells a different story,” said David Hecker, president of the American Federation of Teachers’ Michigan chapter. He added that the union looks forward to working to place an initiative on the ballot in November that would “once and for all protect the rights of workers to collectively bargain.”
Michigan AFL-CIO President Karla Swift called the law “the worst kind of extremist politics, taking away an effective voice on the job for over 200,000 Michiganders.”
“This legislation does nothing to educate a single child. It won’t improve education or do anything to help get our economy on track,” she said in a statement. “In Michigan, as in Ohio, Wisconsin and other states, voters are fed up with these extreme partisan politics.”
The Michigan Education Association’s lawyers are looking into whether it’s legal to single out teachers’ unions from other public employee unions. There’s no law banning the state or local governments from automatically deducting employees’ union dues.
The measure narrowly squeaked through the Legislature last week. Some Republican lawmakers joined Democrats in opposing the measure, which passed 20-18 in the Senate and 56-54 in the House.
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