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Michigan worker pushes back against labor union membership

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(The Center Square) – Four months after Michigan repealed its right-to-work law, more workers are filing lawsuits against their employers for trying to force union membership.

Right-to-work laws ensure employees do not lose their job for refusing to join a labor union. Even without those laws, U.S. Supreme Court case Janus v. AFSCME (2018) ruled it unconstitutional for labor unions to extract agency fees from nonconsenting, non-union member public employees.

But some unions and employers are still trying to force employees to join and financially support the union as a condition of employment, according to the National Right to Work Foundation.

Most recently, Joseph Arnold, a Meijer employee in Sault Ste. Marie, filed charges with the National Labor Relations Board against Meijer management for threatening to fire him if he didn’t complete a United Food and Commercial Workers union membership form.

“Even though Michigan isn’t a right-to-work state anymore, that doesn’t give my employer agency to dictate my options,” said Arnold, “Through ignorance or intent, Meijer threatening my job because I don’t want to associate with the union is unacceptable. If Meijer truly respects our rights they would present us with all options, as it is the job of the union to advocate my interests with my employer, not the job of my employer to advocate the interests of the union with me.”

Meijer and UFCW did not respond to requests for comment.

“Based on the cases that Foundation attorneys have already fielded in the short time that Michigan’s right-to-work law has been repealed, it’s clear that Michigan workers need more protection from coercive union power, not less,” National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix said. “Union officials and complicit employers will often push the boundaries of what’s legal in an attempt to extend union power over workers regardless of whether they want or asked for the union.”

The UFCW says on its website “We work with people in grocery stores all across the country to get them the wages and benefits they deserve — all backed by a union contract.”

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