[Photo of Robert P. Hunter]

Robert P. Hunter

Senior Fellow in Labor Policy

Robert P. Hunter served as the regional director of the Federal Labor Relations Authority in Washington, D.C., and is the senior fellow in labor policy for the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Hunter was director of labor policy for the Mackinac Center from 1996 to 2003.

For the Mackinac Center, Hunter researches critical employment issues and educates key Michigan audiences including elected officials, policymakers, labor and business executives, and opinion leaders.

President Ronald Reagan appointed Hunter to the National Labor Relations Board in 1981, where he adjudicated more than 3000 labor law cases. He served as Chief Counsel to the U. S. Senate Committee on Labor and Human Resources in 1981. He also served as the chief legislative staffer for U. S. Senators Robert Taft Jr. and Orrin Hatch.

In December 1996, Hunter was appointed by Governor John Engler to the Michigan Civil Service Commission, which has plenary constitutional authority to create and operate the state employment system.

Hunter has authored numerous articles for prestigious publications such as Michigan's Wayne Law Review, and has prepared and delivered over 200 speeches and lectures to national audiences on vital labor issues.

Hunter is a former faculty member of the Johns Hopkins University Graduate Business School and has served as labor policy advisor to the U. S. Chamber of Commerce, the Society for Human Resource Management, and other organizations.

Throughout a decade of private practice with a major international law firm, Hunter has helped hundreds of clients implement positive alternative strategies to resolve labor issues.

Hunter is admitted to practice before the U. S. Supreme Court and belongs to several state bar associations. He received his law degree from Vanderbilt University Law School and he holds a master of laws degree in labor law from the New York University School of Law.

By Robert P. Hunter

Contract Out School Services Before Laying Off Teachers

Will Michigan Have its First Unionized Parochial High School?

The risk for parochial and other religious schools in Michigan is that their mission could be undermined by having to cater to union demands. … more

Contract Out School Services Before Laying Off Teachers

The fact that poor-performing private companies have been fired — a point the MEA makes very clear — doesn’t prove that privatization doesn’t work. It proves that it does. … more

Michigan Unions Continue to Lose Support among Workers

Labor unions should abandon the old, outmoded adversarial model of labor relations and instead study ways they can create a better atmosphere; in which labor and management cooperatively solve problems in ways that promote free enterprise. … more

Paycheck Protection:  A Matter of Fairness

Prevailing Wage Repeal Would Save State $400 Million Annually

Union Agreement Threatens West Michigan

Union corporate campaigns and undemocratic, push-button labor deals run roughshod over the rights of employers and employees to fairly and freely make their own decisions about unionization. … more

Michigan Voters Support Labor Reforms

Poll shows majorities favor new union disclosure rules, paycheck protection law … more

Michigan Workers Are Ready for Right-to-Work

Freedom of association is the legitimate basis upon which the union movement helped establish legal protections for workers in national and state labor laws. But what about the freedom to not join or pay dues to a union in order to get or keep a job? Right-to-work laws—operative in 22 states, but not Michigan—respect this individual choice of workers, and a new study shows states with such laws also enjoy greater economic prosperity. … more

Pushing the Right Buttons

A bill introduced in Congress by U.S. Rep. Charlie Norwood would address "push-button unionism" and other defects of federal labor law. … more

Before Cutting Services or Delaying Tax Cuts, State Should Save $110 Million by Repealing Prevailing Wage Law, Analyst Says

MIDLAND-Before Michigan lawmakers delay tax cuts or cut services in order to make up a $382 million budget shortfall next year, they should repeal a law that unnecessarily costs the state an estimated $110 million every year: Michigan's prevailing wage law. … more

Bill Would Require Public-Sector Unions to Disclose Finances

A bill in the Michigan House of Representatives would require the state's public-sector unions to disclose their finances to the same degree of detail as publicly held corporations. The result would be stronger unions with less waste and a renewed focus on the workplace concerns of union members. … more

Of Bush and Beck

President Bush will have an excellent opportunity in the coming months to revive the drive to enforce the Supreme Court's Beck ruling, the decision that affirmed workers' right to opt out of financially supporting union politicking. … more

NLRB Nominations: No Joy for Beck Rights

Unless the Bush administration reassesses NLRB appointments with respect to Beck rights, worker political freedom will remain in the deep freeze for the forseeable future. … more

Michigan's Civil Service Rules are Amenable to Outsourcing

Contrary to what one might expect, the laws of the state of Michigan are surprisingly fair and even-handed when it comes to contracting out public services to private contractors. … more

The Michigan Union Accountability Act:

Unions in Michigan represent over 900,000 workers and take in more than $250 million in membership dues annually. But in spite of their expansive wealth and political power, requirements that unions disclose their financial dealings are minimal. Reform of the federal reporting system, which governs private-sector unions, is needed but unlikely in the current political climate. Michigan can take the lead by passing its own Union Accountability Act, requiring annual financial disclosure reports and independent audits of public-sector union affiliates active in the Great Lakes State. … more

Union Scam

Let's Have Full Disclosure of Union Finances

Under the law, union workers have the right to request a refund of any dues their unions spend on non-workplace-related activities. Unfortunately, lax financial reporting requirements and government enforcement make it difficult for workers to exercise this right. It's time for legislators to hold unions to the same kind of public disclosure standards as corporations, so that workers can know where their dues are going. … more

Voluntary Unionism: An Essential Part of School Reform

Two issues in the educational reform mix that are most often neglected are the critical role that collective bargaining plays in the delivery of educational services and how compulsory unionism hurts public education. … more

Campaign Finance Reform Must Recognize Workers' Rights

As Congress considers various "campaign finance reform" proposals, it should incorporate into any final legislative package the rights of workers not to be forced into paying for their unions' political agendas. "Paycheck protection," which requires unions to obtain up-front written permission before spending dues on political activities, is one way to safeguard workers' rights. … more

Teachers should know their rights

Teacher's Case Shows How Union Workers Can Re-Direct Dues to Charity

A Livonia teacher recently won his bid to send his union dues to charity as an alternative to funding the union's political and moral agenda, which he opposes on religious grounds. … more

"Living Wage" Laws Kill Privatization

Religious Liberty and Compulsory Unionism: A Worker's Guide to Using Union Dues for Charity

Many employees in unionized workplaces do not know that if they harbor religious objections to joining, financing, or otherwise associating with labor unions, they have legal recourse if their union or employer or both violate those rights. This report explains the statutes and developing case law that protect religious employees' freedom of conscience in the workplace by allowing them to refrain from union membership and divert their compulsory dues to a charity of their choice. … more

Time Is Money: Give Michigan Workers a Flexible "Comp-Time" Law

Rigid, Depression-era labor laws should be revised to allow more flexible employment arrangements for America's changing workforce, which increasingly includes women with young children. … more

Don't Raid Michigan's Unemployment Fund to Pay for Family Leave

President Clinton wants states to use unemployment compensation to provide paid leave for parents staying home to care for their newborn children. Lawmakers should instead allow workers to negotiate "comp-time" arrangements to handle family needs. … more

Deauthorization: The Union Workers' Trump Card

Private-sector workers can hold an unresponsive union accountable by voting to withhold their dues payments. … more

State "Teacher Bill of Rights" Is Needed

Michigan Labor Law: What Every Citizen Should Know

Michigan is one of the most unionized states in the country, with a long and sometimes troubled labor history that powerfully affects every citizen in the state from blue-collar factory workers to suburban soccer moms. Yet few understand how modern labor unions and state and federal labor laws operate. This study clearly and concisely explains the history of organized labor in America, how government unions affect the democratic process, how compulsory unionism interferes with workers' rights of free speech and association, and much more. Several recommendations for reform point the way toward restoring a more balanced, government-neutral approach to Michigan labor relations. … more

State "Teacher Bill of Rights" Is Needed

Schools are not factories, teachers are not line workers, and students are not widgets. The factory model of labor relations-with its legalized compulsion funded by forced dues-has failed Michigan's teachers as well as its students. … more

Paycheck Protection: First Aid for Michigan Workers

A law known as "paycheck protection" would shield Michigan employees' union dues from unauthorized expenditures and allow the state's nearly one million union workers to keep more of what they earn. … more

Paycheck Protection in Michigan

The U. S. Supreme Court's 1988 landmark decision Communication Workers v. Beck established the rights of employees working under union contracts to pay only those union dues or fees necessary to cover the costs of a union's employee representation duties. However, the majority of Michigan's nearly one million union workers are unaware of their rights under the Beck decision for the simple reason that their unions neglect to inform them. This report shows how "paycheck protection" legislation would help safeguard worker Beck rights by requiring unions to obtain up-front, written approval from individual workers each year before they could spend the dues money on political or other non-workplace-related activities. The report recommends that Michigan policy makers adopt a paycheck protection proposal to help union workers enjoy their freedoms of speech and association as they refrain from involuntarily contributing money to union causes with which they disagree. … more

Union Workers: Know What Your Rights and Options Are!

Recent court decisions have limited the ability of labor unions to compel membership and dues money for their political causes. Rank-and-file members should be aware of their rights. … more

Union Racial Discrimination is Alive and Well

Unions have a long history of petitioning government for special protections from competitive nonunion industries. The result has been a kind of institutionalized racism. … more

Michigan Should Enforce the Rights of Workers

Most union workers are unaware that they can not be forced to pay for their unions' political, social, and ideological activities. The state should help workers understand their rights. … more

Compulsory Union Dues in Michigan

Nearly one million Michigan workers are forced to financially support a union in order to keep their jobs. Although federal law permits unions and employers to force workers to pay for union representation in the workplace, the law does not extend to forcing workers to pay unions for representation in the political arena. Over three-fourths of union workers are not aware that they do not have to fund their unions' political, social, and ideological agendas. This report documents the developing law surrounding compulsory union dues in Michigan, shows workers how to exercise their rights to a dues refund, presents positive union strategies for making workers aware of their rights, and calls for executive action by the governor. 28 pp. … more

Temporary Workers and Pushbutton Unionism

Thousands of temporary workers choose not to join unions. Should the law force them to do so? The answer may wipe out a nearly $1 billion Michigan industry. … more

Is Labor Applying the Brakes?