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Michigan Supreme Court Takes Right-to-Work, State Employee Pension Cases

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by Publius
Posted January 31, 2014, 9:38 AM

The Detroit Free-Press reports:

The Michigan Supreme Court will rule on whether state employees are covered by the right-to-work law passed late in 2012, the court said today.

The court said it will also consider a pension case affecting state employees.

The state’s high court issued orders accepting the cases and asked for briefs.

The Michigan Coalition of State Employees and other unions argue they are not subject to the right-to-work law because only the Civil Service Commission has responsibility for their work rules.

But the Michigan Court of Appeals, in a 2-1 ruling Aug. 15, said state employees are covered by the contentious law.

The law makes it illegal to require financial support of a union as a condition of employment.

When the state recently ratified a new contract for state employees, it kept the union language the way it is now pending the resolution of the court case. . . .

The Supreme Court said it will also decide whether the Legislature exceeded its authority in 2011 by requiring 18,000 state employees to make salary contributions to keep full pension benefits.

The law, which was implemented in April 2012, requires thousands of state employees to contribute 4% of their pay to retain the full benefit. Otherwise, employees had their pension frozen, and they were moved to a 401(k) retirement plan.

In August, the Michigan Court of Appeals struck down a portion of the law after the unions sued to block the contributions. The appellate court ruled only the Civil Service Commission, not state lawmakers, can change compensation. . . .

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