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School unions file federal lawsuit to stop Michigan law blocking payroll deduction of union dues

A beautiful Spring day at the state capitol
(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)
A beautiful Spring day at the state capitol

Four Michigan unions are asking a federal judge to strike down a new state lawbarring school districts from collecting union dues through payroll deduction.  The unions filed the lawsuit today.

When he signed the law, Governor Snyder said it would ensure “public transparency” and make sure public resources are spent on their intended purposes.   

School employee unions see it differently.   Doug Pratt is a spokesman for the Michigan Education Association.   He says its ‘retribution” by legislative Republicans against the school unions for their campaign to put “collective bargaining” rights in the state constitution.

“It doesn’t make any sense…the (Michigan) Senate Fiscal Agency has said this isn’t going to save any money…this is about politics pure and simple," says Pratt.

The federal lawsuit alleges the law violates the 1st and 14th Amendments of the U.S. Constitution, by discriminating against school employees’s free speech rights and treating them differently than other public employees…who can still have their union dues deducted from their paycheck.   

The governor’s office issued a statement today saying  “We believe the bill does adhere to the constitution. ”

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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