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Supreme Court to hear case which directly affects Panera Bread workers in Michigan

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

The United States Supreme Court has agreed to hear arguments in a dispute between President Obama and congressional Republicans which is directly affecting the lives of Michigan workers.

At issue is the president’s authority to make "recess" appointments.

Recess appointments are made when the president fills a governmental position while the Congress is in recess.

In this case, President Obama filled three vacancies on the National Labor Relations Board without getting his appointees confirmed by Congress.

The Constitution gives the president the power to make temporary appointments to fill positions that otherwise require confirmation by the Senate, but only when the Senate is in recess.

A federal judge has ruled that the appointments to the NLRB violated the U.S. Constitution.

The judge has put the NLRB’s decisions dating back to 2012 on hold until the matter is resolved.

The Michigan connection

In 2012, a group of 18 bakers voted to form a union at six Panera Bread locations along I-94 in West and mid-Michigan.

The NLRB certified the vote, but the local franchisee appealed the NLRB decision.

That union certification vote is now tied up with the case that will go before the U.S. Supreme Court.

A spokesman for the Bakery, Confectionary, Tobacco and Grain Millers International Union accuses companies of using the dispute to “bust the union” organizing efforts in Michigan and elsewhere. 

A local Panera bread spokesman denies the allegation.

The U.S. Supreme Court will hear the case either later this year, or early in 2014. A decision is not expected until around a year from now.

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Public since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.
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