Supreme Court decision is a win, but Right to Work still applies in Michigan

The Supreme Court issued an opinion this morning in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, rejecting an attempt to restrict the rights of public civil servants to band together in a union.AWT_Friedrichs_awt-fb-graphic-04WEB

The Court Justices are 4-4 in the case, meaning a decision from a lower court, which ruled agency fees are legal, will stand.

With the backing of wealthy special interests, Friedrichs asked the high court to ban agency fees for all public employee unions. In effect, this could have made it so all public employees in the country were under Right to Work.

The Supreme Court heard the case in January and seemed poised to rule in favor of Friedrichs and billionaire extremists who want to weaken union power. But the death of Justice Antonin Scalia in February took away that certainty.

This is a huge victory for working people around the nation, but it doesn’t change Right to Work laws in Michigan. We are still subject to Right to Work. Friedrichs focused on public employee unions in states without Right to Work laws.

Michigan public employees are not required to pay agency fees, thanks to state Right to Work laws passed in 2012. But MCO leaders and staff paid attention to this case. Why? Because Friedrichs could have had far-reaching implications for the U.S. labor movement for decades. It could have eroded the voices of teachers, nurses, firefighters, police, and corrections officers around the nation by weakening their ability to collectively bargain. MCO is pleased this effort to weaken unions was ineffective.

“Wealthy special interests know that when people come together in unions, we make major gains for all working people—like higher pay and investing in public education and in public safety for every family and community,” MCO President Tom Tylutki said.