The Michigan Supreme Court, in reviewing a suit against the state’s recent right-to-work law, which frees employees from having to join unions and pay full union dues, ruled 4-3 this week that public employee unions cannot collect agency fees either.

The ruling not only affirms Michigan as a right-to-work state but also frees employees who opt out of their unions from paying agency fees. Previously, workers could opt out of their unions but would still have to pay what is called an agency fee — to cover the union activities in collectively bargaining for wages and benefits.

The decision ruled that the Michigan Civil Service Commission in fact never had the constitutional authority to assess agency fees on public employees in the first place.

The decision is a blog to both public and private unions in Michigan.

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