Sixth Circuit Casts Doubt on Validity of Emergency Manager LawDavid McAfee of Law360 ($$) reports that last Friday, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals provided that the Michigan Legislature may have run afoul of the state’s constitution by expanding its "emergency manager" law.  The emergency manager law expansion, passed last year by the legislature, purports to give state-appointed emergency managers the power to modify collective bargaining agreements.   Accordingly, the Sixth Circuit sent the case back down for further fact-finding as to whether the appropriate procedures were followed in passing the act.

We refuse to rush to decide federal constitutional issues, U.S. District Judge James S. Gwin, sitting by designation, wrote in the opinion. Because the immediate effect issue and the referendum issue are state-law grounds on which the court could decide this case, we vacate and remand to the district court to conduct additional fact-finding and consider these issues.

The plaintiffs in the case, a class of retired city employees, praised the court’s ruling.  Representatives for the state were unavailable for comment.  Expect this to be a long and nasty fight with the potential to drag on for months, if not years.  We will certainly keep you posted as to important developments.

Board At Full Strength For First Time in a DecadeJulian Hattern of The Hill writes that yesterday, all five confirmed nominees to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) were officially sworn into office.  With a five-member panel validly appointed and confirmed by the Senate, this Board is the first NLRB panel to have a full quorum of five members since 2003.  All five members have pledged to remain impartial in their decision-making, but with 3 Democrats and 2 Republicans on the panel, it is expected that the Board will continue on its pro-employee bent.  We will certainly keep you posted as this new Board begins to get its feet wet.

Hayward City Employees on reports that employees of the city of Hayward, California have begun a three-day strike in an attempt to reopen contract negotiations with city officials.  The employees, represented by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), have set up pickets outside of city hall and are also expected to hold a rally later today.  Interestingly, the SEIU has promised that essential services, such as 911 dispatch and waste-water treatments, will remain operational.  We will keep you posted as this labor dispute moves forward.

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