Janus SCOTUS Protest (1) 2-26-19

Protesters outside of the U.S. Supreme Court during the oral arguments for Janus vs. AFSCME, Feb. 26, 2018.

(The Center Square) – Several unions have withdrawn a lawsuit they filed in September.

At issue was new Michigan Civil Service Commission (MCSC) rules requiring union workers each year to opt into paycheck dues deduction. 

The MCSC adopted the rule in October, which requires Michigan state agencies to annually obtain the consent of state employees before deducting any union dues from their wages.

The withdrawal follows U.S. District Judge George Caram Steeh denying unions a preliminary injunction halting the change on Oct. 2.

 The “stipulated dismissal” means there’s no additional costs to either party, and each group bears its own attorneys fees.

“If the state may completely prohibit payroll deductions for union dues without running afoul of the First Amendment, it follows that a yearly reauthorization requirement for payroll deductions also does not implicate the First Amendment,” Steeh wrote. “[T]he State is not constitutionally obligated to provide payroll deductions at all.”

Steeh noted that, as of the hearing, 82% of members had renewed authorizations, and the commission plans to send additional reminders to employees.

National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix said the rule withstanding the lawsuit is “a victory for Michigan state employees, who will now have their First Amendment right to refuse to subsidize union activities respected and safeguarded,” Mix said in a statement.

“That union officials so quickly dropped their attempts to scuttle the rule speaks to the strength of the legal case for it, namely that the Supreme Court clearly delineated in Janus v. AFSCME that union dues can only be taken from public employees’ paychecks with their affirmative and knowing consent.

“Given this example, public officials in other states should enact similar measures to protect their workers, because union bosses across the country continue to manipulate state laws and internal union policies to keep workers trapped in union payments against their will in violation of their First Amendment rights.”

Union members can renew authorizations online or by phone, a process that takes under a minute online, the ruling stated.

Rule supporters argue the policy secures worker’s First Amendment rights under 2018 Janus v. AFSCME Supreme Court decision and constitutes a frequent reminder they can stop supporting their union.

The United Auto Workers (UAW) and other unions had argued the rule “substantially impairs ... collective bargaining agreements … without any legitimate public purpose.”

Unions argued the rules violated the First Amendment's right to freedom of association and complicated renewing union membership.

The UAW declined to comment.

Michigan isn’t alone in courts or attorneys general reminding employees to be notified of their option to opt-out of dues.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill both issued legal opinions earlier this year urging public employers to notify employees of their choice to opt-out of union dues.

Staff Reporter

Scott McClallen is a staff writer covering Michigan and Minnesota for The Center Square. A graduate of Hillsdale College, his work has appeared on Forbes.com and FEE.org. Previously, he worked as a financial analyst at Pepsi.