Right-to-Work Timeline

As Michael D. LaFaive, director of the Mackinac Center’s Morey Fiscal Policy Initiative, pointed out in this Nov. 29, 2012, blog post, the Center’s support for right-to-work stretches back more than two decades.

Here are some major highlights:

April 20, 1992: Adjunct Scholar George C. Leef calls for right-to-work for federal employees and greater freedom for all union members, including a Michigan law that would make political union dues expenses voluntary in a Viewpoint titled “Protecting the Political Freedom of Workers.”

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Oct. 5, 1993: Michigan Gov. John Engler addresses a joint session of Michigan’s legislature saying, “No public-school teacher should be compelled to be in the union to teach in the classroom.”

Nov. 15, 1994: Then-President Lawrence W. Reed and former Senior Vice President Joseph Overton call for right-to-work in the labor law reform section of a study titled “Political Drift or Paradigm Shift?”

Dec. 5, 1994: Overton writes a Viewpoint titled “Should Michigan Become a Right-to-Work State?”

Dec. 6, 1995: Reed promotes right-to-work in a Detroit Free Press Op-Ed. This is exactly 17 years to the day before the Michigan Legislature first votes on the matter.

Jan. 8, 1996: Reed says “Michigan Needs Discussion of Right-to-Work.”

March 1, 1997: Robert Hunter, former director of labor policy and President Ronald Reagan’s first appointment to the National Labor Relations Board, predicts in a Michigan Privatization Report interview that Michigan would become a right-to-work state within a decade.

May 1, 1997: Hunter releases a study titled “Compulsory Union Dues in Michigan.”

Aug. 3, 1998: Mark Fischer, former labor policy research assistant, addresses the advantages right-to-work states have over Michigan in a Viewpoint titled “In Wake of Daimler-Chrysler Merger, Michigan Needs Labor Law Reform.”

March 1999: Senior Policy Analyst Dr. William T. Wilson, a vice president and economist for Comerica Bank, is fired after testifying before a committee of the Michigan Legislature about the benefits of voluntary union membership. His firing comes after several unions threatened to close their accounts with the bank. He was given the Center’s “Lives, Honor and Sacred Fortune Award.”

Aug. 24, 1999: Hunter in a study titled “Michigan Labor Law: What Every Citizen Should Know,” calls for a right-to-work law.

March 7, 2001: Reed promotes a right-to-work law with a commentary in MIRS.

April 19, 2001: Sen. Glen Steil, R-Grand Rapids, introduces Senate Bills 398 and 399, the first such legislation aimed at making Michigan a right-to-work state.

Sept. 25, 2001: Oklahoma voters approve a right-to-work statute.

June 25, 2002: Wilson releases a study titled “The Effect of Right-to-Work Laws on Economic Development.”

Aug. 28, 2002: A poll commissioned by the Mackinac Center found substantial support for a right-to-work law among Michigan voters. The data showed 73 percent favored requiring annual financial reports from government employee unions; 72 percent of self-identified union members supported union financial disclosure.

Sept. 1, 2004: A nationwide survey of union households commissioned by the Mackinac Center finds that 63 percent of respondents thought it was unfair to fire a worker who declines to pay dues or support a union.

Nov 14, 2005: LaFaive suggests a right-to-work law would aid Michigan’s failing economy in a commentary titled “Michigan: The France of North America.”

Jan. 6, 2006: LaFaive and Adjunct Scholar Michael Hicks point out that Michigan’s out-migration population is heavily bound for right-to-work states.

Feb. 8, 2006: Senior Economist David Littmann tells the Michigan House Tax Committee on Restructuring that the state must adopt a right-to-work law.

Sept. 3, 2006: Detroit Free Press poll shows 56 percent of likely voters favor a right to work law, including 42 percent of union households.

June 28, 2007: The Center creates a “Right-to-Work FAQ” page.

Aug. 28, 2007: Labor Policy Director Paul Kersey releases a study titled “The Economic Effects of Right-to-Work Laws.”

Aug. 29, 2007: Patrick J. Wright, director of the Mackinac Center Legal Foundation, releases “A Model Right-to-Work Amendment to the Michigan Constitution.”

Oct. 1, 2007: Kersey notes that Alabama, a right-to-work state, would soon pass Michigan in per capita personal income.

Oct. 2007: Ron Weiser, RNC finance chair, and Dick DeVos, The Windquest Group president, commission a poll and discovers more than 40 percent of union members favored a right-to-work law.

Jan. 28, 2008: Kersey dispels the myths surrounding right-to-work.

April 28, 2008: James Hohman, assistant director of fiscal policy, points out the economic benefits right-to-work states enjoy.

June 17, 2008: Kersey explains in Michigan Privatization Report how a right-to-work law would benefit local municipalities.

Aug. 22, 2008: President Joseph G. Lehman writes in the Detroit Free Press about the need for a right-to-work ballot measure.

Sept. 13, 2008: The West Michigan Policy Forum holds its first meeting and calls for a right-to-work law, including the first public call by the group for such an action by Dick Haworth, president and CEO of Haworth Inc. and a member of the Center’s board of directors.

Feb. 26, 2009: Democrats in the Michigan House, with the help of 14 Republicans, vote down a right-to-work bill.

Feb. 24, 2010: Kersey says right-to-work has entered the Overton Window.

July 2010: Gubernatorial candidate Rick Snyder tells Wendy Day, president of Common Sense in Government, if a right-to-work bill crossed his desk, “I would sign it.”

July 14, 2010: Mike Bouchard, candidate for governor, embraces right-to-work.

Aug. 27, 2010: Kersey noted that new auto plant jobs in Mississippi, a right-to-work state, are paying $1 an hour more than new unionized auto plant jobs in Michigan.

Sept. 3, 2010: The Grand Rapids Press conducts a survey that finds a majority of Michigan voters support a right-to-work law.

Oct. 2010: Future director of labor policy at the Mackinac Center, F. Vincent Vernuccio, publishes right-to-work study with Americans For Prosperity.

Jan 13, 2011: House Speaker Jase Bolger says “right-to-work … [is] on the table."

June 1, 2011: Stephen Moore of The Wall Street Journal says a right-to-work law is “the single most important thing” to help Michigan.

June 15, 2011: UAW Ford worker Terry Bowman creates Union Conservatives for union members who support right-to-work.

June 30, 2011: Michigan Freedom to Work is established. The grass roots organization holds several press conferences around the state.

July 8, 2011: The Grand Traverse County Board of Commissioners passes a resolution calling for a statewide right-to-work law.

Aug. 3, 2011: Dr. Richard Vedder, a professor of economics at Ohio University and an adjunct scholar with the Mackinac Center, testifies before the Indiana General Assembly about the benefits right-to-work states experience.

Sept. 9, 2011: Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville, R-Monroe, announces support for right-to-work for teachers.

Nov. 14, 2011: The Mackinac Center hosts more than 600 guests at a gala in Lansing to hear Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, where he encourages Gov. Rick Snyder to act “swiftly and decisively” in bringing about reform in Michigan.

Feb. 1, 2012: Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels signs right-to-work legislation.

March 7, 2012: Adjunct Scholar Michael Hicks, a Ph.D. economist and associate professor at Ball State University, appears at an Issues & Ideas forum hosted by the Center to discuss his November 2011 study titled “The Puzzling Differences Between Michigan and Indiana in This Recession” one month after Indiana became a right-to-work state.

Sept. 13, 2012: The Michigan Chamber of Commerce releases the “2012 Michigan Economic Competitiveness Study,” conducted by Northwood University, that says a right-to-work law would make Michigan more competitive. Timothy G. Nash, a Mackinac Center for Public Policy adjunct scholar, led the study.

Dec. 3, 2012: The Michigan Chamber of Commerce announces its support for right-to-work legislation.

Dec. 4, 2012 Gov. Rick Snyder says right-to-work legislation is “on the agenda.”

Dec. 6, 2012: Gov. Rick Snyder announces his support of right-to-work legislation for Michigan. Right-to-work legislation is introduced the same day and passed.

Dec. 11, 2012: Gov. Rick Snyder signs right-to-work legislation.