In a disingenuous and non-democratic course of events, the Michigan legislature and Governor Rick Snyder jammed through right-to-work for less legislation, signing it into law as Public Act 349 on December 11, 2012.  All but four Republican senators and all but six Republican House members voted in favor of the legislation.  No Democrats in either chamber voted in favor of the bill.

What Are Right-To-Work Laws
In right-to-work states, unions are prohibited from including union security clauses in their contracts, which are those clauses that require all employees in the bargaining unit to either join the union or pay a portion of its dues as a condition of employment.

Worker-friendly states (those states without right-to-work laws), on the other hand, allow provisions for the union to be the exclusive bargaining agent for those workers who are eligible for membership, and may also require all eligible employees to pay at least a portion of the union dues.

In right-to-work settings, the union maintains the same legal obligation to all potential members for representation around wages, hours, and conditions of employment.  However, the law allows those who receive the union benefit to not pay their fair share, free riding on those who remit dues.

Maintaining the uniformed legal obligation of service on the union and foreclosing the structure for funding those responsibilities strains the union’s resources to zealously represent each and every member.  Thus, right-to-work laws are generally enacted by anti-union, anti-labor, anti-middle class state legislatures to weaken a union’s role in the workplace.

Impact of Right-To-Work Laws
The action of Michigan’s corporate special interest governor and state legislature attempt to diminish the positive impact the APA has diligently worked to secure around your wages, hours, and conditions of employment for the last 25 years.  Two recent studies from the Economic Policy Institute and Ball State University show that right-to-work laws lower wages and benefits for everybody—not just union members.

Unionized settings ‘pull up’ wages and benefits for everybody. When unions are weakened and there is no wage pull, employers have no check and balance when they unilaterally drive down wages and benefits in both unionized and non-unionized sectors.

Result of Public Act 349 on APA Members
The recently passed legislation will go into effect on March 27, 2013.  However, when the law goes into effect, by its terms, it does not apply to any current agreements between the APA and Michigan State University.  Since the APA is a party to a current collective bargaining agreement through September 30, 2015, the new legislation will not have any effect on the APA until, at least, the expiration of the current contract.

The APA continues to be extensively involved and deeply concerned with the impact of Public Act 349 on members’ wages, hours, and conditions of employment.  We continue to be engaged with our state (MEA) and national (NEA) affiliates and other statewide unions and organizations as we assess the best path to move forward.

Despite the governor’s intention to weaken labor in Michigan by endorsing Public Act 349, we are certain this will only elevate the necessity of unions and strengthen our resolve.

At this moment in time, there is no change for APA members and the benefits afforded under the contract will continue.  We remain steadfast in providing the quality service and representation on all aspects of your wages, hours, and working conditions.  If you have any questions or concerns, please contact the APA office at (517) 353-4858.

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