Another End Run Against Michigan Right To Work Averted

Saginaw County government employee union officials were defeated by County Commissioners in their desperate attempt to avoid the expansive reduction in membership and forced dues expected when Michigan’s Right to Work Law is finally implemented this month.   The proposition was the same as the Wayne State Univeristy and the Taylor School District one:  give us an extended contract for the next 10 years, with forced membership or dues, and we’ll be happy.  Mark Tower has the story on

The Office and Professional Employees International Union, Local 459 chapter, came before the Saginaw County Board of Commissioners’ Labor Relations Subcommittee Monday to request ratification of a 10-year contract that would preserve a requirement for OPEIU members to pay union dues.

Union representative Jeffrey Fleming spoke in support of the measure, saying it would prevent potential workplace conflicts that could arise if some members decide to stop paying dues after the law takes effect on March 27.

“There is a business case to be made for entering into this,” Fleming said. “It has the potential to be pretty divisive around here.”

The three-page proposed agreement would have required OPEIU members to continue paying regular member dues as a condition of their membership, despite language in the recent state law banning such requirements.

After hearing a report from the county’s attorney, Andre Borrello, committee members decided to take no action on the union’s request, effectively killing the proposal.

In his presentation to the committee, Borrello talked about risk, both of cuts to state funding and of potential legal action against the county. He pointed to a lawsuit filed by three teachers against the Taylor School District after the district approved a teacher contract with a similar 10-year union security clause.

Commissioner Kirk Kilpatrick pointed out that, from a county government perspective, he saw a lot of cons associated with ratifying the agreement, but few pros.

Borrello explained that the proposed agreement would have been a “parallel” contract to the county’s current agreement with OPEIU employees, which sets wages and benefits. That contract is set to expire on Sept. 30, 2013.

County leaders are preparing to sit down with all 16 collective bargaining agreements to negotiate new contracts, which all expire at the end of September. Currently, OPEIU members make up 157 of Saginaw County’s 665 employees, making it the county’s largest single bargaining unit.

Fleming said it remains to be seen how many OPEIU members at the Saginaw County Governmental Center will stop paying dues after March 27.