Right to Work in for long court struggle

Guest Editorial
Despite Rick Snyder’s plea that the Michigan Supreme Court settle the Right-to-Work law’s constitutionality, the state’s highest court decided to pass.

RTW outlaws union dues as a condition of employment. The governor hoped the court would sign off on the controversial statute and quiet widespread objections about the way it was enacted.

The Legislature’s Republican majority quickly devised and passed RTW during its lame-duck session before the Christmas holiday. In the face of massive demonstrations at the state Capitol that led to state police closing the Capitol building, the law was passed with little debate and signed by Snyder.

It’s kind of curious that the court’s conservative Republican majority passed up the chance to weigh in on RTW. The court said it wasn’t convinced making such a ruling now was “appropriate exercise” of its discretion. Snyder’s critics read that as more proof that the moderate governor doesn’t carry much weight with the GOP’s right.

Even if the Supreme Court took up RTW, there is no guarantee that it would have the last word. Anti-RTW lawsuits are in state and federal courts.

One suit prompted Snyder’s request that the Supreme Court fast-track its ruling on RTW’s constitutionality. It argues Michigan’s Constitution gives the state Civil Service Commission jurisdiction over public worker employment rules and conditions, therefore making RTW inapplicable.

Another lawsuit contends state officials violated the Open Meetings Act. When state police sealed the Capitol building when RTW legislation was being considered, plaintiffs argue that prevented the public from attending the session. The law, they say, is illegal as a result.

Still another lawsuit, a federal challenge, states RTW is at odds with the U.S. Constitution and federal labor laws.

Whatever ultimately happens with RTW, there is no dispute that the law is divisive — in the way it was created and its application in this strong union state. In or out of the courts, the RTW battle is far from finished.