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Dec 2012
07
December 07, 2012

'Right to Work' Speeding Through Legislature


Legislation quickly moving through the House and Senate would make Michigan the 24th "right to work" state in the nation. Senate Bill 116 and House Bills 4003 and 4054 call for a ban on mandatory union membership and mandatory payment of union dues for private-sector employees and most public-sector employees. On Thursday, the House passed 4054 and the Senate approved 116 and 4003. Further action is expected Tuesday.

The bills, if approved by both chambers, will be forwarded to Governor Snyder, who has indicated he will sign them.

If the bills are signed into law, any agreement or practice requiring union membership or payment of dues as a condition of employment would be unenforceable. Violators would be subject to civil fines and to claims for damages. There is a limited exemption for public police and fire employees and certain Michigan State Police employees, who still could be required to join or pay dues to a union.

Given organized labor's long and storied history in Michigan, this legislation is highly controversial. We will closely monitor developments and keep you up to date.

Another important piece of legislation that would affect employers is the Internet Privacy Protection Act, which passed the State Senate on Wednesday. This act would prohibit employers from requesting or requiring applicants or employees to allow employers to access social media accounts and would prohibit employers from refusing to hire an applicant or disciplining an employee who does not grant such access.

The legislation contains exceptions that would allow employers to demand access to devices that are paid for by the employer or to social media accounts that are used for work-related purposes. Also, employers would be permitted to investigate and take disciplinary action if the employee improperly transfers confidential employer information through a social media account or otherwise violates the law or engages in work-related misconduct. The legislation is expected to be taken up by the House next week and, if it passes, Governor Snyder is expected to sign it.

If you have questions about this legislation or another labor-related legal development, please contact Rob Dubault (rdubault@wnj.com or 231.727.2638) or any other member of the Labor Law Group at Warner Norcross & Judd.

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