Michigan State Panel Opens Way For Cancelling Contracts Covering State Workers

Another day, another way to put the screws to Michigan's union members.

On September 20, the Michigan Civil Service Commission (MCSC), over the vehement protests of state employee unions, gave the state the authority to override collective bargaining contracts for state employees during financial emergencies.

The commission also gave government managers ultimate authority for how employees receive overtime, are reassigned after layoffs, while reducing the issues upon which they're allowed to bargain.

The worker “reforms” are the most significant since the state legislature adopted right-to-work laws for public and private workers in 2012.  The Michigan push for so-called RTW laws is part of a national campaign by the right wing, its business backers and their GOP handmaidens to emasculate and destroy workers and unions, especially public worker unions.

This time, it was a ruling by the Michigan Civil Service Commission, which voted 3-1 to approve the new language, covering the state's nearly 50,000 employees. The three supporters were Republican-appointed.

"This is all part of the right-wing’s plan to bust unions, defund the left, and give more power to their corporate donors in our democracy and in the workplace, while decreasing economic security for state workers and their families at the same time," said Lonnie Scott, executive director of Progress Michigan.

Countered the Michigan Chamber of Commerce, who supported the so-called reforms: "We applaud the MCSC’s efforts to provide central direction and control over state employee personnel matters and leave the patchwork scheme and red-tape of union contracts behind." 

Unions and workers hurt are members of the Auto Workers, the Service Employees, AFSCME, the Michigan State Education Association and the Michigan Corrections Organiza-tion, SEIU Local 526. The unions said any changes should have been collectively bargained.          

“The proposed changes,” said the news service MIRS, “in the eyes of its supporters, would bring more efficiency to a complex system. In many cases, they say the changes would create uniformity in how employees represented by unions and non-exclusively represented employees are treated. Yet, the unions don’t see a system that’s broke and in need of fixing.”