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Friday, December 14, 2012

Op/Ed: Is Michigan Governor Rick Snyder's 'Right-to-Work For Less' Law unenforceable for Public Workers?

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Independent Underground News & Talk has the best SANITY POLITICS FANS in the blogging business! Our inspiration to write today's article came directly from one of fans informational leads contained on top political blog, Politicus USA.

This article is written on behalf of Ms.Tammy Sperle, former unionized State Employee. Ms. Sperle, who was a Mother to two young children, loss her life in late morning of February 5, 1996 while at work.

The public for the most part are unaware how all our public servants, whether those workers unionized or not, literally put their lives on the line daily to protect the public at large, deserve all our respect for the job performed.

On Tuesday, December 11th in lighting speed, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder with assistance of the State's Republican controlled House and Senate, signed  the "Workplace Fairness and Equality" Act, or otherwise known as the Right to Work for Less Law. Two versions of this statue was passed in the House and Senate, unilaterally applying to Public and Private Sector Workers.

Calls to give proper time for review of the "Right to Work for Less" bills by Michigan's House and Senate Democratic Caucus were completely ignored, along with a Republican plea by House member, Lisa Posthumus Lyons (R). Representative Lyons' husband is a State Correctional Officer.

Ms. Lyons gave a speech on the House floor Tuesday, pleading for her Republican House "leaders" adopt her amendment, seeking to shield her spouse and other State Correctional Officers from the "Workplace Fairness and Equality/Right to Work for Less" Law. Representative Lyons declared for the dangerous job Correctional employees perform, they should be exempt from the House Bill. Governor Snyder demanded Police and Fire Workers not be subject to the provisions of this law.

From M-Live December 12, 2012:

"State Rep. Lisa Posthumus Lyons, R-Alto, was among right-to-work supporters quoted in The New York Times on Tuesday, Dec. 11, saying “this is the day that Michigan freed its workers.” But she also proposed to add corrections officers to the list of public employees - including police and fire - not covered by the right-to-work law. 
The amendment was gaveled down and did not come up for a vote. 
“When we talk about the brave women in police and fire we need to remember people in corrections,” said Lyons, whose husband, Brad Lyons, is a corrections officer. “These guys work in conditions that we can’t even begin to imagine. 
"It's not financial. It's philosophy. I am saying we need to treat our corrections officers that way we treat our police men and women and firefighter men and women.”
Ultimately, Ms. Lyons voted in favor of the "Right to Work for Less Law" for her Husband's and other State Correctional employees. Yet, it turns out if Rep. Lyons fellow House Republicans took just a moment and listened to 'tea-leaves' in her speech, they would've saved Governor Snyder and each of them personally, from years of lawsuits that will surely come.

As referenced in the Politicus USA article, it appears neither Governor Snyder, Michigan Republican House or Senate members, or any other elected official had inherent rights to dedicate collective bargaining terms of employment for unionized Civil Service Employees. Instead, Michigan's Constitutional Document of 1963 apportions the States' Civil Service Commission sole rights to set rules of employment for State Government Workers.
The commission shall classify all positions in the classified service according to their respective duties and responsibilities, fix rates of compensation for all classes of positions, approve or disapprove disbursements for all personal services, determine by competitive examination and performance exclusively on the basis of merit, efficiency, and fitness the qualifications of all candidates for positions in the classified service, make rules and regulations covering all personnel transactions, and regulate all conditions of employment in the classified service."
Michigan Civil Service Commission further defined its' authority over all State Governmental  Employees, in section 6 of the Commission Rules Booklet.
"6-1.2 Constitutional Authority
The civil service commission recognizes that there are fundamental economic, political, and legal differences between employer
 -employee relations in the state service and those in the private sector and other public sector employment. It is the view of the commission that constitutional provisions do not prohibit the commission from establishing a form of collective bargaining analogous to that in other public sector employment, so long as the collective bargaining agreements are subject to review, modification, and approval by the commission.
Uh Oh! We're not lawyers - nor do we play one on T.V.- but by reading the language above Governor Rick Snyder, Republicans in Michigan's House and Senate might have overstepped their authority implementing the "Right to Work for Less" law, with language contained in our States' Constitution.

Less than two months ago, Republicans across the state -including one who formerly ran for Governor and loss, Dick Devos- financed a defeat of Proposal 2 quest to Collective Bargaining as a Constitutional Right for Michigan workers. 
Governor Snyder, so angered by State Unions lobbying for passage of Proposal 2, he boldly cried this action played a primary role in "flip-flopping" his nearly two and one-half year position against advocating for Right to Work legislation in Michigan. 

The Governor has a law degree. Many Republican State and House Representatives highly educated judicial counselors themselves. One would think these highly educated attorney's and State Elected Executive and Legislative officials, should be able to read Michigan's Constitution along with the States' Civil Service Commissions' rules and statues just like we did, right?

Another important point we're compelled to express in this article is Governor Snyder's insistence of keeping police and fire employees out of his "Workplace Fairness and Equality" Act. Turns out at least for State Police Officers, he had no choice but to do so.

"State police troopers and sergeants shall, through their elected representative designated by 50 percent of such troopers and sergeants, have the right to bargain collectively with their employer concerning conditions of  their employment, compensation, hours, working conditions, retirement, pensions, and other aspects of employment except promotions which will be determined by competitive examination and performance on the basis of merit, efficiency and fitness; and they shall have the right 30 days after commencement of such bargaining to submit any unresolved disputes to binding arbitration for the resolution thereof the same as now provided by law for public police and fire departments."
Imagine the lawsuits that would have been immediately filed if Governor Snyder demanded his"Workplace Fairness and Equality" Act applied to all Police Officers, including State, County, City, Township or Village Law Enforcement personnel. The above language more likely than not be used to counteract Governor Snyder's perceived authority, hereby launching workplace discrimination lawsuits far and wide across Michigan. 

And what if local communities have rules or charter statues similar to Michigan Civil Service Commission; regulating exactly which entity control rules of employment for governmental workers? 

Does the words Eminent Domain ring a bell?

From Columbia University:
"Traditionally the power of eminent domain has been exercised for the construction of large public projects, but its use is beginning to be broadened to projects involving not ‘public use’ but ‘public benefit.’ The decision in Kelo v. City of New London, a case that came before the US Supreme Court in 2004, set a precedent for property to be transferred to a private owner for the purpose of economic development. The court found that if an economic project creates new jobs, increases tax and other city revenues, and revitalizes a depressed or blighted urban area it qualifies as a public use. 
This expands on a prior decision in Berman v. Parker (1954) which argued that the problems of large-scale urban blight need to be addressed with large-scale redevelopment plans and that land can be confiscated, and transferred to a private entity for a clearly defined public use."
Key term from the above paragraphs are 'Public Use and Precedence'. State income taxes, collected on the public behalf, pay salaries and benefits of nearly all State, County and Local government employees. These Employees in turn, service needs of the public and for work on behalf of the public use.

Eminent Domain is a term Governor Snyder, along with Republicans in the State House and Senate voting for the "Right to Work for Less Law" might be subject to in lawsuits filed on behalf of public governmental employees within Michigan's State, County and Local branches of Government, for years to come.

Will Michigan's Civil Service Commission use the authority this State Government Agency has apparently, protecting State Workers from Governor Snyder's "Right to Work for Less Law"?

Time will tell. Let hope for all State Employees who work for, and at times give up life as we know it servicing the public's will, the Civil Service Commission rightly stands up against Governor Snyder's highly questionable "law".

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