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Whitmer objects to civil service union rule switch

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The Republican-controlled Michigan Civil Service Commission has adopted a rule change over the objection of Governor Gretchen Whitmer and state employee unions. It says union members will soon have to decide every year whether they will pay union dues.

The rule will also eliminate the fee paid by employees who opt out of the union but are still represented in contract talks.

Union leaders say it’s part of a continuing effort to diminish union influence and workers’ rights.

Republican commission member Jase Bolger said it doesn’t take anything away from employees.

“Instead, unions will remain free to make their case," says Bolger. "But I do believe that it does protect individual workers’ rights. Workers will remain free to make their choice.”

The commission adopted the rule change on a three-to-one vote. A lawsuit is possible because state employee unions say the rule violates existing collective bargaining agreements.

Transportation technician Roderick Jackson is with the Service Employees International Union. He told the commission the new rule seems designed to diminish the power of state employee unions.

“This body should be making decisions to help the employees and their employers improve their working relationship instead of putting us in a fight to keep our ability to be represented and to negotiate fairly in contracts,” said Jackson. 

Governor Gretchen Whitmer is also among those opposed to the rule change. The members of the commission were all appointed by Republican Governor Rick Snyder while he was in office.