With a very real possibility that Indiana may soon enact a right-to-work law, a long-simmering Michigan debate on the issue could come to a head. As Mackinac Center Fiscal Policy Director Michael LaFaive wrote earlier, right-to-work states appear to have significant competitive advantages over their neighbors in attracting manufacturing jobs, so Indiana’s actions could have a major impact on future employment prospects here — and political ones.
That makes this a good time to review the voting record on this issue of the Republican lawmakers who now control the Michigan House, Senate and Governor’s office. Starting at the top, on several occasions Gov. Rick Snyder has said he would sign a right-to-work bill if it landed on his desk, but the issue is not on his priority list.
Seventeen of the 26 Republicans who now hold the majority in the 38-member state Senate have already voted for a right-to-work measure while serving previous terms in the state House (names below). Lt. Gov. Brian Calley — whose vote breaks Senate ties — also has voted (twice) for right-to-work bills.
Five current members of the Senate Republican caucus have voted against a right-to-work measure. One of these was a 2008 amendment to make Michigan a “right-to-work” state, and the other a 2010 amendment to authorize local right-to-work “zones.”
(Two current Senators, Jim Marleau of Lake Orion and Geoff Hansen of Hart, are on both lists, voting against a right-to-work amendment in 2008 before they supported a different one in March 2010. In that year, both were in their final term in the House of Representatives under Michigan's term limits law. The second right-to-work vote occurred two months before the filing deadline for GOP primary elections, and the state Senate districts corresponding to Marleau and Hansen's House districts were also opening due to term limits. Both men entered and won those "open" August primary contests [no incumbent running], all but guaranteeing election in November in these heavily Republican areas.)
In the 62-member House Republican caucus (out of 109 current House members), 21 had the chance to vote for at least one of the right-to-work measures, and all but one took it, including the current Speaker of the House, Jase Bolger (both times). The one current House member who voted against right-to-work measures did so both times. No current or former Democratic member of either body has voted in favor of a right-to-work proposal.
Here are the relevant names and details:
17 Current GOP Senators voted IN FAVOR OF right-to-work measures:
(Plus Lt. Gov. Brian Calley, who casts the deciding vote in the Senate in the event of a tie.)
Five current GOP Senators voted AGAINST right-to-work measures:
20 current GOP House members voted IN FAVOR OF right-to-work measures:
One current GOP House member voted AGAINST right-to-work measures (both):
Amendment to House Bill 6256 offered by Rep. Arlan Meekhof on September 16, 2008, to tie-bar the bill to House Bill 4454, meaning this bill cannot become law unless that one does also. HB 4454 would make Michigan a right-to-work state. The amendment failed 35 to 69 in the House on September 16, 2008. Who Voted "Yes" and Who Voted "No"
Amendment to House Bill 5808 offered by Rep. Tom McMillin (R) on March 2, 2010, to tie-bar the bill to Senate Bill 945. SB 945 would authorize county, city, township, village, or school district right-to-work zones. Who Voted "Yes" and Who Voted "No"
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National Right to Work Foundation FAQs