Across the United States, workers who resign from their union must continue to accept its representation. In right-to-work states, workers who resign from the union do not have to pay for that representation, but they are not free to negotiate their own contracts or working terms. Unions call these workers free riders, but a more accurate term would be forced riders.

Worker’s choice, a new concept from the Mackinac Center, would let employees negotiate in their own interests. Rep. Gary Glenn, R-Midland, recently introduced a bill to implement it in Michigan, and the Center hosted a panel discussion in Lansing to explain the idea and how it would benefit workers in the state.

F. Vincent Vernuccio is director of labor policy at the Mackinac Center and developed the idea of worker’s choice. He gave the audience an explanation of how it goes hand in hand with right-to-work. It could even protect right-to-work from legal challenges recently brought by unions. Vernuccio also discussed polling conducted over the summer that showed a vast majority of union members support the concept of worker’s choice.

Glenn discussed how he became interested in labor issues and said he was optimistic about the chances of worker’s choice becoming law in Michigan. He pointed out that the exclusive bargaining privileges unions currently enjoy are not found in any other area of employment law and that workers should be able to negotiate for themselves on their own terms, if they wish.

The final member of the panel was Stephen Hall. A teacher from Flint, Hall discussed his personal experiences with union representation and the ways he and his family could benefit from increased choice and flexibility in his public school contract. 

A bill to implement worker’s choice currently sits before the Government Operations Committee in the Michigan House of Representatives.