• Could Michigan’s right-to-work law cause bullying of union holdouts?

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    righttowork-MI-120712LANSING, MI — Michigan’s right-to-work law has raised concerns among some who fear workers could be bullied as they decide whether or not to pay union dues or fees.

    Right to work prohibits employers or labor unions from requiring workers to pay union dues or fees as a condition of their employment. Though the controversial measure went into effect on March 28, unions that already had existing contracts in place are allowed to continue operating under those terms until the agreements expire.

    One MLive reader asked how workers who don’t pay union dues or fees would be protected from any physical and emotional violence if unions post a list of the people who aren’t members.

    The law provides protections for workers against intimidation.

    The law states that it’s illegal to use “force, intimidation or unlawful threats” to compel someone to join or financially a support a union, or refrain from joining or financially supporting a union. The same goes for using such tactics to convince someone to pay a charitable organization or third party “an amount that is in lieu of, equivalent to, or any portion of dues, fees, assessments, or other charges or expenses required of members of or employees represented by a labor organization.”

    A person, employer, or labor organization that violates the law is liable for a civil fine of up to $500. The fine would go into the state’s general fund.

    Anyone who suffers harm as a result of a violation or threatened violation can bring a civil action for damages, injunctive relief, or both, according to the law. The court also shall award court costs and reasonable attorney fees if the plaintiff wins.

    So far it’s a bit unclear as to how a civil fine would be imposed for violations.

    For unfair labor practices, MERC has jurisdiction over public sector employers and the NLRB has jurisdiction over private employers.

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    Read the entire article and commentary from Travis Calderwood and Andrew Nickelhoff on MLive

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