Legislation Announced to Make Michigan the 24th Right-to-Work State in the Nation

‘Historic day for both Michigan and the nation,’ says labor policy expert

For Immediate Release
Thursday, Dec. 6, 2012

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Ted O'Neil, Media Relations Manager
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MIDLAND — The Michigan Legislature today took the first step toward making the Great Lake State the 24th right-to-work state in the nation, announcing what Gov. Rick Snyder termed the “Workplace Fairness and Equity Act.”

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“This is a historic day for both Michigan and the nation,” said Labor Policy Director F. Vincent Vernuccio. “The birthplace of the UAW and the state with the 5th highest percentage of union members in the country has taken the first step toward enacting worker freedom.”

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.”

As the Mackinac Center previously reported, 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. Inflation-adjusted compensation over the last decade grew 12 percent in right-to-work states, but just 3 percent in forced unionism states.

“This is a signal to job creators and entrepreneurs that Michigan is open for business,” Vernuccio said. “This will mean more and better jobs for our state. Jobs that will allow Michigan’s children and grandchildren to stay here and prosper.”

Vernuccio also points out that a right-to-work law does not ban collective bargaining or unions’ ability to exist and organize new workers.

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

Mackinac Center analysts in recent days have written extensively about the impact of right-to-work on a variety of subjects, including migration, teachers, job growth, worker safety and union political influence. Center experts have advocated right-to-work for more than two decades.

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