News Story

Court of Claims Tosses MEA's Right-to-Work Lawsuit

State Capitol was closed when union protesters pushed past guards, impeded medical workers

The Michigan Court of Claims dismissed a lawsuit by the Michigan Education Association that claimed the State Legislature violated the Open Meetings Act when they passed the right-to-work law in 2012 while the Capitol building had been closed for a time due to protesters.

Judge Deborah A. Servitto made the ruling Friday.

The judge’s ruling stated: “The temporary cessation of admission to the Capitol building did not impair the rights of the public as a whole. The public and the media were present in spite of the closure and were able to observe directly and through media coverage.” The ruling also stated that the right-to-work bill was not passed while the Capitol building was closed.

“It is amazing what Steve Cook of the MEA and the other labor unions tried to do,” said Derk Wilcox, an attorney for the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. “What the court found was that the union protesters pushed past guards, trespassed through windows, and impeded the evacuation of someone who needed medical attention. Because of this the state police closed the Capitol building once it was already full. That the protesters did this to block legislation that they didn't like was bad enough, but then trying to invalidate the legislation because of the problems they caused is even worse. They tried to exercise a ‘rioters' veto’ over the legislative process. The court saw through this and summarily dismissed the unions' claims.”

The Michigan Education Association didn’t respond to a request for comment. The Michigan State AFL-CIO, Michigan Building & Construction Trades Council, AFL-CIO and Change To Win were also plaintiffs.

The court found that on Dec. 6 at about 12:05 p.m., the state police ordered the Capitol building closed. A group of protesters had pushed past uniformed state police officers and Capitol security. Troopers used pepper spray to try to keep control. Eight people were arrested. The state police were worried people could get trampled, or fall over the railing in the rotunda or the protesters would forcibly take control of the House and Senate chambers. At 12:30 p.m. the state police received more reports of protesters trying to rush the Senate chamber. At 1 p.m., there was a medical emergency involving a woman outside the Senate chamber. But access to her was impeded by protesters, the court found. The woman was transported across the Senate floor because a large number of people were blocking access to the Senate chamber. At 2:45 p.m., police were told that protesters were trying to get into the Capitol from the ground-floor windows. At 4:38 p.m, the Capitol was reopened. The right-to-work law was passed at 7:30 p.m.

"This frivolous waste of union members' hard-earned dues money was a futile attempt to turn back the clock to the now-discredited practice of discriminating against and firing employees who choose not to join or financially support a private labor organization,” said Rep. Gary Glenn, R-Midland, in a press release. “Hopefully, the judge's dismissal puts an end to union officials' misguided attempt to strip employees of their individual freedom and rights of conscience on the job."


See also:

VIDEOS: Union Right-to-Work Protest Goes Violent

Most of the Arrested Anti Right-to-Work Protesters Have SEIU 'Dues Skim' Connections

'We'll Be at Your Daughter's Soccer Game'