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In a Victory for the ATU and Labor Unions, Michigan Public Act 54 Repealed

Thanks to an aggressive campaign by our Michigan Legislative Conference Board and the labor movement across the state, a bill to repeal the anti-union law Public Act 54 was passed by the Michigan Legislature. In 2011, Michigan state legislators passed Public Act 54 which froze step increases for public sector employees and forced them to pay health insurance premiums when a CBA expires. Public Act 54 also prohibited any kind of retroactive pay or benefits once an agreement is reached.

Some public employers, including transit agencies, weaponized Public Act 54 to wait out unions during bargaining and pressure employees into accepting weaker contracts. In some cases, employers even hired legal counsel who claimed that transit agencies can no longer deduct union dues from payroll once CBAs expire. After twelve years under this policy, PA 54 was finally voted to be repealed because of the efforts of the labor movement to elect pro-worker politicians.

When the newly elected politicians, that our Union helped get elected, took control of Michigan’s state house, they did not waste time beginning to work on union priorities. HB 4044, the legislation that repeals Public Act 54, was passed through both houses of the Michigan legislature at the end of June and was signed into law by Governor Whitmer. This victory comes on the heels of Michigan state legislators repealing the state’s Right-to-Work law earlier this year, another example of the importance of getting involved in politics to elect pro-transit politicians.

“For over a decade, the labor movement in Michigan has been under the control of PA 54, limiting our ability to fairly negotiate a contract,” said Earl Cox, Michigan Legislative Conference Board, and Local 1093-Kalamazoo, MI, President/Business Agent. “Since we worked hard to elect legislators that are committed to leveling the playing field, we’re about to see a historic labor wave across our great state.”

There are still other anti-union laws on the books in Michigan that need to be addressed to restore workers’ rights. Michigan had also banned COPE contributions through payroll deduction by public employers, but there are two bills currently in the state legislature that would fix this issue.

“These legislative wins have brought new hope and energy to ATU locals in Michigan,” said International President John Costa. “Now that employers will not be rewarded for their stalling tactics and low-ball offers, we will have more leverage to negotiate strong contracts for our members. Congratulations to our Michigan Legislative Conference Board for your hard work bringing justice for workers.”

As the November 2024 elections draw near, the Michigan Legislative Conference Board will remember the legislators who worked with us to get these bills across the finish line and will continue to lobby for the interests of transit workers across the state!