Michigan’s Public Employee Relations Act Public-Sector Labor Law and Its Consequences
This paper illustrates numerous shortcomings in the Public Employee Relations Act. Under PERA, important public policy decisions have been removed from the direct control of elected officials and are now made in the process of collective bargaining. As a consequence, officials of government unions have assumed a peculiar role in the making of public policy; the responsibilities, methods and duties of government workers must be negotiated with them, rather than being determined by the elected representatives of Michigan residents. This development is in conflict with the principles of democratic government. Like private-sector unions, government employee unions have driven up the cost of wages and benefits for government workers while instituting seniority and disciplinary rules that complicate worker assignment and discipline. The allowance for mandatory union dues and agency fees gives union officials access to tens of millions of dollars of taxpayer funds with virtually no restrictions on how these funds are spent.