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147700 - International Union v Green

International Union, et al,
 
 
 
Plaintiffs-Appellants,
Andrew Nickelhoff
v
(Original Action from Court of Appeals)
 
 
 
 
Nino Erwin Green, et al,
 
Ann M. Sherman
 
Defendants-Appellees.
 
 
 
 

Summary

Cases to the Court of Appeals and Supreme Court are typically appeals of orders issued by lower courts. However, in this case, the Legislature placed in the Court of Appeals exclusive original jurisdiction over challenges to 2012 PA 349 (PA 349), colloquially called a “right to work” law.
PA 349 amends the public employment relations act (PERA), and states that public employers—that is, the government—cannot require governmental employees to join a union or pay union dues, fees, or other expenses “as a condition of obtaining or continuing public employment . . . .”  The plaintiff unions challenge the Legislature’s constitutional authority to pass PA 349 with respect to classified state civil service employees.  Plaintiffs argue that, under Const 1963, art 11, § 5, the Civil Service Commission (CSC) has the exclusive authority to regulate “all conditions of employment” for this group of governmental employees.  They also argue that the CSC has the authority to collect agency fees from union-eligible employees who opt out of union membership.  PA 349, which prohibits the collection of such fees, intrudes on the Civil Service Commission’s sphere of authority, plaintiffs argue.  Defendants responded that the Legislature has the constitutional authority under art 4, § 49 to enact laws applicable to all employees, public and private.
In a split published opinion, the Court of Appeals held that PA 349 applies to employees in the classified state civil service, and that the Legislature has the authority to enact legislation with regard to agency fees.
Plaintiffs appealed. On January 29, 2014, the Supreme Court granted the application for leave to appeal.