News Story

The UAW lost members in Michigan last year

As right-to-work law is repealed, tens of thousands will be forced back into unions

While the United Auto Workers international union added about 11,000 new members in 2022, its Michigan branch lost members. Michigan has been a right-to-work state for the past decade, which contributed to massive membership losses for labor unions in the state. That law, which allowed workers to choose whether to join a union, was recently repealed.

According to the UAW’s recently released federal LM-2 form, the international union went from 372,000 members in 2021 to 383,000 members in 2022. That’s an increase, but the number is still down from the 700,000-plus members the union had in 2001 and the 430,000 it had in 2016.

The Michigan branch of the UAW declined by about 50 people last year, from 133,999 to 133,946. UAW-Michigan is down from 270,000 members in 2001 and 154,000 in 2016.

These losses came even though, according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs in auto manufacturing in Michigan are up about 20,000 over the past decade. While there are more jobs in its core industry, UAW-Michigan lost more than 10,000 members during that time, likely thanks to workers exercising their right to get out of union membership under Michigan’s right-to-work law. The UAW has been dealing with massive corruption issues including convictions for federal crimes that sent many of its top leaders to prison in recent years.

But the union is still a powerful force. Repealing Michigan’s right-to-work law was one of the first things Michigan Democrats did after taking a narrow majority in the Legislature last November. This means that all private sector workers employed at a company with a collective bargaining agreement have to join the union and pay union fees or lose their jobs.

An estimated 60,000 workers across Michigan are expected to be forced back into labor unions against their will.

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.