On March 8, 2023, the Michigan House of Representatives passed two bills that would repeal Michigan’s current right-to-work law. The two bills, House Bill (HB) 4004 and HB 4005, passed 56–53 along party lines. HB 4004 relates specifically to right to work in the public sector; HB 4005 relates to right to work in the private sector.
Both bills would remove the prohibition under Michigan’s current right-to-work law that makes it illegal to require an employee to pay dues or agency fees to a union as a condition of obtaining or continuing employment. This means that union security clauses in collective bargaining agreements, which allow a union to compel an employer to discharge an employee for refusing to pay dues or agency fees (i.e., fees that are required to be paid by employees who object to paying for union activities unrelated to collective bargaining and grievance administration, such as organizing the employees of other employers, lobbying for political legislation, and participating in social, charitable, and political events), would become legal again for the first time in Michigan since the state enacted its right-to-work law in 2012.
The public-sector bill is, at this point, just a symbolic move, as the Supreme Court of the United States’ 2018 decision in Janus v. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, Council 31 makes it impermissible for unions or government employers to compel government employees to pay union dues.
The bills now move to the Michigan Senate for further debate. As the Senate will not be in session from March 24 to April 10, 2023, due to spring break, it is expected that debate on the bills will be completed before the break begins. If passed in the Senate, the bills would proceed to Governor Gretchen Whitmer for her likely signature.
Ogletree Deakins’ Detroit (Metro) office will continue to monitor and report on developments with respect to HB 4004 and HB 4005 and will post updates on the Michigan and Traditional Labor Relations blogs as additional information becomes available. Important information for employers is also available via the firm’s webinar and podcast programs.