Mike Bouchard became the first GOP candidate for governor to campaign on right-to-work legislation when he announced Wednesday in Grand Rapids that he would support it.

Twenty-two states have right-to-work laws that allow employees to decide whether to join a union. Michigan has a union shop provision allowing employers and unions to negotiate rules that mandate that employees join a union or pay union dues and fees.

"Twenty two states have a right-to-work law and their unemployment rate is around eight-percent. In Michigan it's 13.6-percent. Companies are going elsewhere and taking their jobs and our kids with them. That has to end," the Oakland County sheriff said in a press release. "Someone shouldn't be forced to join a union to get a job. It'll be my job as governor to create an environment that fosters job creation and prosperity. One way to do that is making Michigan a Right to Work state."

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"The union bosses and special interests may be upset, and will probably target me, but I'm ready and willing to take on the tough challenges to turn our state around," Bouchard said.

Bouchard's campaign hopes this will improve his standing in the polls. In the more recent EPIC/MRA poll from June, Bouchard was third in the GOP primary. Mike Cox had a 36 percent favorable rating from those polled, while Pete Hoekstra was second at 35 percent and Bouchard was third at 33 percent.

"I think that his backbone to take a stand on this issue ... will separate him," said Ted Prill, campaign manager for Bouchard.

Economists David Littmann of the Mackinac Center and Don Grimes of the University of Michigan have said that for the state to compete for manufacturing jobs in the United States, right-to-work must be a part of the plan.

"This shows that RTW has achieved a level of salience that makes high-profile support of it appealing to an anxious candidate looking to break from the pack in a five-way GOP primary election," Jack McHugh, senior legislative analyst at the Mackinac Center For Public Policy wrote in an e-mail. "Specifically, at least one experienced Michigan politician now thinks that things have been so bad for so long that voters here will reward a candidate who loudly calls for RTW."

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