Michigan Supreme Court: Benefits For State Employees Can Stay

By | 2013-05-02T09:00:00-04:00 May 2nd, 2013|Michigan, News|

The Michigan Supreme Court voted 7-0 on May 1 not to hear the appeal of Attorney General Bill Scheutte in a case that could have stripped domestic partner rights from state employees.
Schuette brought the lawsuit against UAW Local 6000 claiming that providing benefits to unmarried co-habitators violated the Michigan Marriage Amendment and the Equal Protection Clause. The Marriage Amendment, passed in 2004 prohibits recognizing any “agreement” other than “the union of one man and one woman in marriage” as “a marriage or similar union for any purpose.” The Attorney General asserted that offering medical benefits to anyone other than a spouse is a violation of this Amendment and therefore unconstitutional.
In January the Court of Appeals voted 2-1 to uphold the right of the union to offer this benefit, and Schuette appealed to the higher court. During the appeals process, employees have been able to maintain their benefits.
Ray Holman, Legislative Liaison for UAW Local 6000, said that while his state-wide union has 17000 employees in every state department, only about 200 employees have signed up to receive the benefits.
Holman said he is proud of the court’s choice not to hear the appeal. “This means that collective bargaining rights have been preserved,” he said. “We need more people with healthcare benefits, not less. And this is good for Michigan. It helps us attract qualified, capable, creative people into our workforce. It makes Michigan an attractive place for people to move to and work.”
The decision also impacts non-union employees such as members of management who are not part of the union, but receive the same benefits. And it helps bring the state in line with many of the major corporate employers who offer these benefits.
“What we’re about is trying to give everybody opportunity and raise everyone up,” Holman said.
Notably the benefits package does not include “domestic partner” wording, rather extends medical coverage to “to one non-married, non-related household companion.”

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