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Michigan Unions Challenge Unconstitutional Election Law in Federal Court

PA 269, signed by Governor Snyder, violates free speech rights of union members in Michigan elections

DETROIT – Michigan labor unions filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court today challenging Public Act 269, a law signed by Governor Rick Snyder in 2015. The law, also known as Senate Bill 571, was passed late at night without a single committee hearing, and clearly violates the free speech rights of union members wishing to participate in Michigan elections.

Plaintiffs in the lawsuit include: the Michigan State AFL-CIO; the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local 58; the Utility Workers Union of America, Local 223; George Horuczi, an employee of DTE Energy, and a member and officer of UWUA Local 223; the Michigan State Utility Workers Council; and William D. Chadwick, Jr., an employee of Consumers Energy, and a member of UWUA Local 338.

“This law is unfair, unconstitutional, and downright un-American,” said Ron Bieber, President of the Michigan AFL-CIO. “It makes it easier for corporations and their super PACs to spend big money on our elections while silencing the voices of working people. We’re asking the court to do the right thing and protect the First Amendment rights of Michigan’s hardworking union members, so they can make their voices heard in Michigan’s elections.”

The legal action names Attorney General Bill Schuette and Secretary of State Ruth Johnson as defendants in their official capacities with the State of Michigan.

Unions assert that PA 269 discriminates against union members by allowing corporations and their trade associations to collect PAC contributions through payroll deduction, while prohibiting payroll deduction for union PAC contributions. The law violates the First Amendment rights of union members by selectively suppressing political speech and association, which is a clear violation of the First Amendment and the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution. PA 269 also violates the Contract Clause, which protects existing collective bargaining agreements.

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The Michigan AFL-CIO is a federation of labor unions, and represents over 1 million active and retired union members across Michigan.

IBEW Local 58 is based in Detroit and represents 5,000 electricians in the construction, maintenance, broadcast and manufacturing industries.

UWUA Local 223 is headquartered in Detroit and represents 3,500 members employed by DTE Energy.

The Michigan State Utility Workers District Council is located in Charlotte, and represents 24 UWUA locals across Michigan.

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