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Economy & competitive position/Public sector

Right to Work bills won’t touch State Police

Thousands of union workers converged on Lansing Tuesday to protest the passage of Right to Work legislation. They stood on a Capitol grounds well-populated with Michigan State Police troopers – troopers who, ironically, are not only unionized themselves, but insulated from the current debate due to a constitutional provision.

A spokesman for MSP declined Tuesday to say how many troopers were deployed to the Capitol Tuesday, though an estimate by a Bridge reporter on the scene put the figure well above 100. That’s a substantial commitment of statewide resources; the MSP reported 887 at-post troopers around the state, as of Sept. 1 of this year.

Regardless of how the Legislature ultimately acts on Right to Work, the state police union will not be touched by it.

Under section 5 of Article XI of the 1963 Michigan Constitution, “State Police Troopers and Sergeants shall, through their elected representative designated by 50% 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 …”

At the time, troopers were concerned that their pay and benefits would fall behind the pay and benefits of unionized police officers in municipalities across the state, recalls longtime Lansing attorney Peter Ellsworth. State police campaigned for the protection, which eventually was enshrined in the constitution.

Unions in general attempted to gain the same constitutional protections, via Proposal 2 on the November ballot. That ballot initiative was voted down.

The Michigan State Police Troopers Association has a contract with the state that runs through Sept. 30, 2014, and details everything from staffing in patrol cars during overnight hours (two troopers per vehicle is the standard) to the blood-alcohol level of a trooper that triggers the disciplinary process (0.2 for a first event).

5 comments from Bridge readers.Add mine!

  1. Tim

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but Right To Work has nothing to do with “outlawing” unions, nor does it affect any union’s right to collectively bargain. Right To Work simply states that employees will not be forced to join a union, nor pay union dues, if they do not want to.

    1. Brian Pannebecker

      Tim, you are correct. Those that oppose RTW law seem to think if 51% of a workforce vote to have a union represent them, that it is ok to FORCE the other 49% of the workers to join and pay dues as a condition of employment. (By the way, the UAW has never had a “re-certification vote”, so nobody at the domestic auto companies has EVER voted for union representation. It was essentially “forced” on every auto worker.)
      That’s why unions had become so intoxicated with power ; they had a license to steal in Michigan. Now they will have to respect the wishes of all of the workforce they wish to represent, if they want to retain members.

  2. William

    That is my understand too; Federal law establishes the right to join a Union and protects that well.

  3. Allan Blackburn

    The plan is to weaken them financially so that they have no power anymore. Who would pay dues if they did not have to. Many employees can get the benefits of being represented by a union but put no skin in the game to pay for it. They get the best of both worlds. We have a government that is not representative anymore by the use of attaching appropriations to the bills so that they will be referendum proof. Many people, who listen to Fox news, are being sold on the idea that it is okay to screw them over because they have bought the kool-aid that this will create jobs and that they need to sacrifice their social security and everything else because they cannot be afforded anymore. Keep believing everything they tell you until you live in a shack and drive by their mansions every day. They have you convinced that, any day now you will be rich to. If you believe that, I have some property to sell you. And I am well off as well. Just don’t believe all of the garbage being spoon fed to us.

  4. Paul

    Section 5 of Article XI should add that the troopers will be paid through the looting and redistribution of wealth to which the troopers have no right. This would make it more obvious that the activities of the troopers’ union bosses are motivated by a desire to benefit from crime organized under the color of law. And what is the purpose of having the troopers? It is to shield the political class of the province from the natural law, which does not criminalize self defense against criminals who disguise their antics with constitutions, statutes, and the long screeds of arrogant gasbags with law degrees.

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