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Workers can sue Union despite argument of federal preemption

Anthony Henry and Keith White sued their union local and its business manager, claiming that they were terminated after reporting what they considered to be illegal conduct by the Union.  The Defendants argued that  the Federal Labor Management Reporting and Disclosure  Act and  the National Labor Relations Act "preempted" the field of labor relations, such that Michigan's Whistleblower Protection Act offered the plaintiffs no protections from retaliation.

The Court of Appeals agreed with the lower court that the federal statutes had not preempted the two mens' rights under Michigan law.  The federal statutes evidenced no intention to preclude individual union member/employees from normal civil protections. The Court cautioned that courts must be careful to avoid engagement in "political" disputes involving union employees, but that the instant controversy did not raise issues that were properly the subject of preemptive federal law.

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