AG fights anti-worker rule, removes Michigan from voting, immigration suits

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Attorney General Dana Nessel has joined a coalition of 25 state chief law enforcement officials in opposing the National Labor Relations Board’s (NLRB) proposal to weaken its joint employer standard.

This part of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) governs the status and liability of an employer who oversees a worker with another employer, such as franchises or subcontractors. Nessel and her colleagues filed official comments Monday raising questions about the integrity of the rulemaking, as well as concerns about the harm on workers and residents.

Dana Nessel in Detroit on Feb. 1 | Ken Coleman

“The hardworking men and women of Michigan deserve fair, transparent, predictable rules that aren’t jeopardized or arbitrarily changed because employers are skirting the system,” Nessel said.

Nessel is the first Democrat to hold the Michigan attorney general post since 2002. All signers to the letter are Democrats.  

The NLRB established the current joint employer standard in a 2015 decision, which concluded that a company is an employer if it has control, directly or indirectly, over employees’ terms and conditions of employment. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia two weeks ago affirmed this decision in Browning-Ferris Indus. v. NLRB.

Protest of Gov. Rick Snyder, 2011 | Austin Slack, Flickr

The AG letter contends that the proposed rule “undermines the statutory purposes of the NLRA, will make enforcement of the NLRA more difficult, and raises serious concerns under the Administrative Procedure Act.”

Nessel also has been withdrawing Michigan from a string of federal lawsuits that her predecessor, Republican Bill Schuette, had joined. Last week, the Democrat pulled the state from cases involving reproductive rights, LGBTQ rights and the separation between church and state.

On Monday, the AG announced that she has filed motions to remove Michigan from four federal lawsuits that she said “dilute the civil rights of Michigan residents.”

Michigan is withdrawing from two cases that Nessel said would make it more difficult for Americans to register to vote and maintain their registrations. They are: Fish v Kobach and Greater Birmingham Ministries v Merrill.

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Similarly, Nessel said that she is extricating the state from two other suits because they would “limit state and local governments from establishing their own law enforcement priorities regarding immigration.” They are Lopez-Aguilar v Marion County and United States v California.

“Michigan is a melting pot of legal residents who have come here from every corner of the world,” said Nessel. “This office will not take any action that would limit full and active participation as voters and as residents.”

Ken Coleman
Ken Coleman reports on Southeast Michigan, education, civil rights and voting rights. He is a former Michigan Chronicle senior editor and served as the American Black Journal segment host on Detroit Public Television. He has written and published four books on black life in Detroit, including Soul on Air: Blacks Who Helped to Define Radio in Detroit and Forever Young: A Coleman Reader. His work has been cited by the Detroit News, Detroit Free Press, History Channel and CNN. Additionally, he was an essayist for the award-winning book, Detroit 1967: Origins, Impacts, Legacies. Ken has served as a spokesperson for the Michigan Democratic Party, Detroit Public Schools, U.S. Sen. Gary Peters and U.S. Rep. Brenda Lawrence. Previously to joining the Advance, he worked for the Detroit Federation of Teachers as a communications specialist. He is a Historical Society of Michigan trustee and a Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metropolitan Detroit advisory board member.

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