04/01/2013 02:04 pm ET | Updated Apr 01, 2013

Michigan GOP Considers More Anti-Union Measures Following Right-To-Work

The controversy over Michigan's new right-to-work legislation hasn't stopped state Republicans from considering taking additional action against public-sector unions.

The Detroit News reports that State Rep. Mike Shirkey (R-Clarklake) has drafted a bill that would target union exclusivity clauses in employment contracts.

Exclusive representation means that a union chosen by the majority of workers at a place of employment is recognized by the state as the sole representative of those employees. It's a key aspect of U.S. unionism and figures prominently in the landmark National Labor Relations Act of 1935.

GOP legislators passed right-to-work in a divisive lame duck legislative session last December. The legislation took effect last week. It stops unions and business in the state from signing contracts that would require mandatory dues payments by employees to collective bargaining organizations.

Critics of right-to-work say that it gives employees who don't pay dues a "free ride," allowing them to enjoy union benefits without having to pay for them. Targeting exclusive union representation gives right-to-work advocates a potential avenue to sidestep that criticism.

"The freeloader argument only exists because unions choose to put the exclusivity clauses into contracts," Rep. Shirkey told the Detroit News. He has yet to file his drafted anti-exclusivity legislation.

In addition to banning exclusive representation clauses, GOP legislators like State Sen. Pat Colbeck (R-Canton) are also looking into measures that would force employees to reauthorize their unions as collective bargaining agents during contract renegotiation periods, according to the paper.

The fallout over right-to-work has also impacted two Michigan universities. Wayne State and the University of Michigan are facing retaliatory budget cuts from state lawmakers due the ratification of faculty contracts that took place before the March 28 right-to-work deadline.

A recent Michigan State University poll found that 43 percent of state residents think right-to-work will help Michigan's economy, compared to 41 percent who think it will harm it, according to the Morning Sun. That study had a three percent margin of error.


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