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Michigan's Right-to-Work Repeal Now Effective Mid-February

A statue in front of a building.

Employees may be required to financially support unions in Michigan a bit sooner than originally anticipated.

For the past decade, employees in Michigan could not be forced by union contracts to join or financially support any labor organization as a condition of employment.

The Michigan legislature became the first state in almost 60 years to repeal it's right-to-work law earlier this year. However, in doing so, the initiative did not have sufficient support to allow the repeal to be immediately effective. Most thought the repeal would not be effective until approximately March 30, 2024.

We now know it will be effective six weeks sooner than originally thought. Specifically, under Michigan law, when legislation does not have sufficient votes for immediate effect, it does not go into effect until 91 days after the end of the legislative session. Historically, since the legislature normally works until the end of the year, that means that any legislation not given immediate effect is not effective until the end of March, the year following that legislative session.

However, the Michigan Legislature recently passed a concurrent resolution to adjourn for the year on Nov. 14. Bills without immediate effect will now be effective approximately six weeks earlier than expected. The right-to-work repeal will likely be effective on Feb. 13, 2024, instead of March 30, 2024, as previously anticipated.

Given that the repeal of this statute affects what union contract provisions are enforceable, employers with employees covered by a collective bargaining agreement will want to determine what this change means for them. Many agreements already contain provisions that will allow unions to require employees to agree to have representation fees withheld from their wages as soon as this law is repealed, and unions across the state have been attempting to negotiate similar provisions since the legislation was initially passed.

However, even if an agreement does not immediately impose this requirement, it is a safe bet that it will be a demand in the next round of negotiations. As such, employers with represented employees in Michigan will want to plan accordingly.

Grant Pecor is an attorney with Barnes & Thornburg in Grand Rapids, Mich. © 2023 Barnes & Thornburg. All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission via Lexology.


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