Michigan Must Defend Right-to-Work Law Challenge, Judge SaysAndrew Harris
Michigan must defend a challenge to its law that bars forcing workers to pay union dues, a federal judge ruled as he dismissed parts of the case filed by the AFL-CIO.
U.S. District Judge Stephen J. Murphy in Detroit today ruled the Michigan State AFL-CIO and other organized labor groups that sued last year could continue to pursue their claim that federal labor law preempts the “right to work” measure signed into law in 2012 by Republican Governor Rick Snyder.
“Michigan has legislated, or at the very least arguably legislated, outside the boundaries” of what is permitted by the National Labor Relations Act, Murphy said today in his ruling.
With its passage, Michigan became the 24th U.S. state to adopt such legislation, the judge said.
“We think this is a significant victory,” Andrew Nickelhoff, an attorney for the labor groups, said today in a phone interview.
While the judge hasn’t definitively said that any of the 2012 law’s provisions are preempted by federal law, he seems to have concluded some parts are probably preempted, the attorney said, contending those invalid provisions can’t be separated from the legislation as a whole.
“There are enough invalid and preempted provisions in the right to work law that the entire law should be struck down,” Nickelhoff said.
The law interferes with the rights of workers and state officials should be barred from enforcing it, the union said in its complaint.
The Michigan AFL-CIO was joined in the lawsuit by the Michigan State Building and Construction Trades Council and Change to Win, an advocacy group.
Three of eight claims in the union’s case were dismissed.
“We are pleased with today’s ruling upholding Michigan’s Freedom to Work law,” Joy Yearout, a spokeswoman for state Attorney General Bill Schuette, said by e-mail. “This is a great victory for Michigan’s hardworking men and women and a welcome addition to previous state court rulings upholding the law.”
The case is Michigan State AFL-CIO v. Callaghan, 13-cv-10557, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Michigan (Detroit).