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Jul
2016
22

Federal Judge Issues Injunction Blocking MI’s Paycheck Deception Law, Public Act 269

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A federal judge in Michigan has issued a preliminary injunction blocking a new state law designed to hamper political fundraising for organized labor. Public Act 269, introduced by Republicans late last year, prevents the deduction of union dues from company payrolls. Judge Linda Parker called the law, which labor advocates view as ‘paycheck deception,’ as “viewpoint discrimination in violation of the First Amendment”:

Unions argued that the law illegally allows companies to make employee payroll deductions for contributions to corporate political action committees, while banning payroll deductions for union members’ contributions to their union’s PACs. U.S. District Court Judge Linda V. Parker agreed with the unions’ position that the law violates the First Amendment free speech rights as well as the Contract Clause, which protects existing collective bargaining agreements.

[…] Judge Parker also wrote: “The Court finds that by enacting PA 269, Michigan has placed an obstacle — bolstered by the threat of a felony charge — in the path of organizations’ and employees’ efforts to solicit and raise funds necessary to engage in political speech.”

Several unions were involved in the lawsuit, and political perspectives regarding the bill fall mostly along party lines. Democrats support the injunction, while Republicans want to see the new law enforced:

Andrew Nickelhoff, who represents the Michigan State AFL-CIO, called the ruling “a big win for working people.” The injunction “halts the unfair and unequal treatment of union members under P.A. 269 and protects the constitutional rights of union members to speak up together and participate in our elections,” he told Bloomberg BNA July 5.

The manner in which the law originally passed was dubious according to Democrats:

P.A. 269, originally crafted as Senate Bill 571, started as a series of bipartisan adjustments to the Michigan Campaign Finance Act.

A Republican lawmaker amended S.B. 571 on the final day of the 2015 legislative session. The measure passed the legislature with several Democratic lawmakers later complaining they didn’t understand the implications of the amended bill.

The free-market Michigan Freedom Fund has vowed to appeal.

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