Michigan Becomes 24th Right-to-Work State in the Nation

‘The power an idea can have when it is pursued with principle and persistence,’ says Center president

For Immediate Release
Tuesday, Dec. 11, 2012

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Ted O'Neil, Media Relations Manager
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MIDLAND — Gov. Rick Snyder tonight signed legislation making Michigan the 24th right-to-work state in the nation.

“The Mackinac Center has said right-to-work was right for Michigan for more than 20 years,” President Joseph G. Lehman said. “This victory that workers celebrate today shows the power an idea can have when it is pursued with principle and persistence.”

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.

“I applaud Gov. Snyder and the brave lawmakers who chose to put workers and job creators above the special interests,” Labor Policy Director F. Vincent Vernuccio said. “Today we have a state that is freer than it was yesterday.”

Gov. Snyder signed Senate Bill 116 and House Bill 4003, which become Public Act 348 and Public Act 349, respectively, of 2012. The new laws will take effect 90 days after the Legislature adjourns.

Protests outside the Capitol turned violent as opponents expressed their displeasure with the Legislature’s votes.

“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.”

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