News Story

Know your Janus rights: Government employees still can’t be forced to pay unions in Michigan

Across America, a 2018 U.S. Supreme Court ruling, Janus vs AFSCME, protects right-to-work for government employees

The repeal of right-to-work left some public sector workers confused about their employment rights. But nothing has changed for them. Government workers still do not have to pay union dues or agency fees as a condition of employment.

“Passing bills that are currently unconstitutional can mislead employees into believing that the law has changed and that they must now pay a union,” said Steve Delie, director of labor policy at Mackinac Center for Public Policy. “Public sector employees across the country have a First Amendment right to not pay a union thanks to the U.S. Supreme Court’s Janus v. AFSCME decision. Repealing right-to-work does nothing for public sector employees except cause confusion.”

Although public sector workers cannot be forced into paying unions, due to the 2018 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Janus vs. AFSCME, Democrats in the Michigan Legislature introduced and passed unconstitutional legislation to the contrary. The original version of House Bill 4004 stated that public sector workers would have to pay union dues or agency fees as a condition of employment.

An amendment offered on the House floor introduced a trigger mechanism. The law requiring public sector workers to pay unions would only be valid under two conditions, the amendment said: if the Supreme Court Janus ruling is overturned or if there is an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to authorize public sector bargaining with agency.

Sen. Thomas Albert, R-Lowell, offered an amendment that would have cleared up any confusion for public sector workers. It would have required union representatives to provide employees with a notice of their Janus rights. The Democratic majority rejected the amendment.

Public sector workers are employees of federal, state, or local government agencies and offices. Jobs in the public sector include public school teachers, emergency service responders, health care workers, and employees in state agencies such as the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services or the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

House Speaker Joe Tate, D-Detroit, was asked in an email why House Democrats introduced an unconstitutional law and refuse to ensure public sector workers understand their rights.

His office has not responded.

Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.