Brothers and Sisters;
Local 223 has been publishing on a bi-monthly basis the Steward Talking Points for nearly two years now. During this time, we have worked hard in keeping you informed on the issues that affect you at work and to provide you with access to educational opportunities through your Local Union. There are occasions when we keep you informed as to legislative happenings in Lansing so that you have a better understanding as to the legislative events taking place that are impacting your work life and your standard of living. We have tried to keep legislative updates to a minimum since we believe that your greatest desire is for news that is directly tied to the job.
The events, legislatively speaking in Michigan since November of 2010 have had a ever increasing profound impact on our rights as citizens as well as our rights as workers covered by a collective bargaining agreement. To this point, we believe that the Michigan Legislature is dramatically impacting our ability to negotiate good contracts for this membership. We believe it is imperative to keep you informed as to the laws being introduced and passed in Lansing because any dividing line that may have existed between work and political involvement is being erased.
This Special Edition is to inform you on four bills voted out of committee for the floor to take up in the Michigan House of Representatives. They are HB5023, HB5024, HB5025, HB5026. They are all aimed at making it harder for all unions, including this union to operate and effectively represent our members.
Three of the four bills are what could be call “nuisance” legislation. HB 5023 and 5024 don’t make any changes to what is legal or illegal regarding public employee strikes or mass picketing. Instead they merely increase criminal penalties and fines on those who break the law. HB 5026 repeals a law on advertising for replacement workers that was likely rarely enforced. These three bills certainly don’t do anything to create jobs or help working people who have the guts to stand up for their rights, but they don’t make things hugely worse, either (though the increased fines will likely have a chilling effect on the exercise of free speech and tough-nosed collective bargaining).
Regarding HB2025, somehow the Chamber of Commerce feels that by making it harder for unions to collect dues through payroll deduction, they will place a huge burden on those unions. While it is true that the bill will create tremendous headaches for unions and our ability to spend time representing members instead of trying to determine how to operate, the bill makes it even worse on the employer payroll staff. Instead of just clicking a box on the payroll software whenever a new employee is hired into the bargaining unit, the employer will now be responsible for tracking which employees have given permission for the deduction and which have not – and this must be done every year! Moreover, the bill gives employees the right to opt-out at any time, which will create even more chaos for the HR departments of large union employers like ours.
To point out, these bills have been introduced on the heels of sweeping reform to Michigan Workers Compensation Law in January of this year that set new standards and significantly reduced benefits to workers. This is so even when Michigan’s workers compensation rates are well below the average nationally.
None of these bills are focused on job growth for Michigan and its residents. The damage is already done in regard to workers compensation. We are asking you to contact your representative and inform them that this group of bills does nothing to help job growth, or create good paying jobs in Michigan – all this does is punish working people. Ask them to vote no on these when they come up for vote.
These bills are now on their way to the House floor for a vote, which means there’s still time to help fight back.
This is just another effort by politicians to dismantle collective bargaining one piece at a time.
These bills won’t create jobs, but they will give big corporations more power to silence the voices of Michigan workers.
Our legislature should be focused on putting people back to work instead of attacking workers and our teachers, nurses and firefighters.