Preliminary Injunction Granted on Dues Deduction Prohibition

DETROIT, Tuesday, June 5, 2012 – In a federal court hearing today, U.S. District Court Judge Denise Page Hood ruled that the Legislature violated the constitutional rights of school employees and their unions by enacting Public Act 53, which would prohibit payroll deduction of union dues for school employees only.  Judge Hood indicated that a written ruling, along with a preliminary injunction stopping the enforcement of the prohibition on dues deduction, would be issued tomorrow.

A coalition of unions representing school employees, including MEA, AFT Michigan, AFSCME Council 25 and SEIU Local 517M, filed suit challenging PA 53, based on violations of the United States Constitution.  In their motions, attorneys for the school employee unions cited three specific constitutional violations: 

  1. Violation of the equal protection clause, as the dues deduction ban applies only to unions of school employees.
  1. Violation of the 1st Amendment freedom of speech provision, as dues deduction is a method to assist unions in its role as an advocate of public school employees.  The ban negatively affects those unions ability to speak on behalf of their members.
  1. Violation of the 1st Amendment as the ban is a retaliation against the unions who, on the day prior to PA 53’s passage, announced support of a petition drive to place collective bargaining rights in the state constitution.

Following normal standards for issuing injunctions, the court granted the preliminary injunction because Judge Hood believed there was a substantial likelihood of success on the merits of the arguments presented by the unions, and she felt unions and their members would incur irreparable harm if the injunction was not issued.

“Today’s ruling represents a significant step toward justice,” said MEA President Steven Cook.  “When the legislative and executive branches pass politically motivated legislation and act out of malice, we look to the courts for fairness. Today, we received a measure of justice.”

CONTACT: Doug Pratt, Director of Public Affairs, 517-896-4465