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Michigan workers' union violates workers' rights

The Michigan State Employees Association is a union, and it is supposed to fight for the rights of state workers. However, a new report ironically accuses the union of treating its own workers in an unfair manner. Those workers, who are central office employees, actually have a smaller union within the MSEA, called the Central Office Staff Association, or COSA.

These are more than just allegations from employees, but accusations that have been handed down by the National Labor Relations Board in a recent ruling. The NLRB claims that the union illegally terminated workers, illegally disciplined them, and then refused to hand over all of the proper information.

It's fairly common for the NLRB to come down on an employer, saying the company violated employees' rights, perhaps violating the rights of unionized individuals. It is far less common for one union's members to have those rights violated by another union.

The federal board ruled against the MSEA by a vote of two to one. It said that the union has to give the workers who were fired their jobs back and quit acting in violation of the Labor Relations Act. When the union gives those workers their positions back, it's also going to need to give them back the benefits and pay that they lost out on after being fired. Their seniority cannot change, either, meaning they can't be counted as "new" employees when returning to work, as the board feels they never should have been fired.

Unions are typically supposed to help employees, but this case shows how that can sometimes go awry. It's crucial, then, for employees to know their own rights. The law may be the only thing they can truly count on.

Source: Free Press, "NLRB: State of Michigan workers union broke law with own employees," Paul Egan, accessed Aug. 29, 2016

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