A news service for the people of Michigan from the Mackinac Center for Public Policy

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Michigan Could Become 24th Right-to-Work State

‘Won’t affect collective bargaining; only takes away unions’ ability to fire those who don’t financially support them,’ says labor policy expert

For Immediate Release
Thursday, Nov. 29, 2012

Contact:
Ted O'Neil, Media Relations Manager
989-698-1914
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989-513-3970

MIDLAND — Michigan legislators are now openly discussing the possibility that the Great Lake State could become the 24th right-to-work state in the nation.

“A right-to-work law makes Michigan home again,” said Labor Policy Director F. Vincent Vernuccio. “It means Michigan will be home to more and better jobs for our state, it means Michigan’s children and grandchildren will be able to stay here and not only find jobs, but prosper.”

Extending right-to-work protections to employees in both the private and public sectors means that unions will no longer be able to get a person fired for refusing to financially support them.

“Right-to-work does not affect collective bargaining in any way except to take away unions’ ability to fire workers for not paying them,” Vernuccio added. “It makes unions accountable to their members. Unions will no longer be able to bolster their political power by taking money from people who don’t support their agenda.”

The move comes less than a year after Indiana became a right-to-work state. Since that time, the Hoosier state has added 43,300 jobs, while Michigan has lost 7,300. Indiana’s manufacturing sector added 13,900 new jobs, while Michigan’s lost 4,200. Nationally, the numbers are even more telling. Between 1980 and 2011, total employment in right-to-work states grew 71 percent, while employment in forced unionism states grew just 32 percent. Employment in Michigan grew just 14 percent during that same time.

“Michigan needs jobs with good, competitive benefits and a salary that can support a family,” Vernuccio said. “Over the last decade, inflation-adjusted compensation in right-to-work states grew nearly 12 percent, compared to just 3 percent in forced unionism states.”

There is a major difference in benefits, too.

“According to the National Institute for Labor Relations Research, between 1999 and 2009 the number of people covered by private employer health insurance increased nearly 1 percent in right-to-work states, but fell almost 7 percent in forced unionism states,” Vernuccio added.

“Unions can and do still exist in a right-to-work state,” Vernuccio said. “But people also have a right to say ‘no thank you’ when a union demands money for providing an unwanted service.”

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Central Michigan University economist Jason Taylor explains how raising the minimum wage will hurt teen workers trying to find their first job. See more at "Raising the Minimum Wage, Lowering Opportunity."


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