News Story

Right-to-work no longer rules in private sector

Agency fees still apply; public sector workers still have right-to-work

Right-to-work protections no longer apply to people who work in the private sector, meaning that if a union’s collective bargaining unit covers them, they must pay the union.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Democratic majorities in the Michigan Legislature repealed Michigan’s right-to-work law last fall, and the repeal took effect Feb. 13.

Michigan implemented right-to-work protections in 2012, and union membership numbers continued their history of dropping. “For decades, union membership has been declining, with 2023 marking the lowest union membership on record,” said Steve Delie, director of labor policy at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy.

Right-to-work law in Michigan did not prevent workers from joining a union. Rather, it guaranteed that those who were not interested in joining a union or paying a fee to it did not have to do so just to keep their job. The 2023 repeal of right-to-work reversed the rights of workers in the private sector.

Public sector workers, by contrast, still will not be required to pay or join a union. That’s due to a 2018 U.S. Supreme Court ruling called Janus v. AFSCME.

Private sector employees in Michigan who work in a unionized business will not have to join the union. But they will still be required to pay agency fees to the union. The amount of such fees is based on the union’s collective bargaining expenses, and it excludes expenses for the union’s political activity. An agency fee can, however, be as high as 90% of the cost of dues.

“Only ten percent of workers in the U.S. belong to a union,” Delie told CapCon. “Workers deserve the option to choose whether or not a union is best for them.”

If you are a public sector employee and encounter someone in the workplace who says you must belong to a union, please contact Michigan Capitol Confidential.


Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.