Worker’s Choice Popular in Michigan, Nationwide

National Employee Freedom Week poll finds overwhelming support of idea

As groups and individuals across the country work to educate workers about their rights during National Employee Freedom Week, right-to-work states like Michigan should consider another reform that would make workplaces more fair and free.

Mackinac Center Policy Analyst Jarrett Skorup wrote in an op-ed published by The Detroit News this week that even workers who opt-out of union membership can be forced to accept union representation even if they don’t want it. Worker’s Choice would free workers from forced representation and unions would no longer be required to negotiate on behalf of non-members.

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But both sides of the political divide should support the concept of “worker’s choice,” championed by my colleague Vinnie Vernuccio. This would fix the “rider” problem, allowing workers who opt out of union membership to represent themselves and free unions from having to provide services to the workers they complain of free riding. This concept is also popular: more than 70 percent of Michigan union members agree with the concept.

The Washington Examiner wrote about the popularity of Worker’s Choice in an article this week, explaining that nationwide, 67 percent of union members agree with the concept. "These survey results show that many workers believe they're better stewards of their hard-earned wages," Vernuccio told the Examiner.

Politico noted that Worker’s Choice has even, “intrigued a few pro-union commentators” because it solves the “free rider” problem.

The same survey that explored the favorability of Worker’s Choice found that more than one-quarter of union members nationwide would drop membership if they could do so without penalty. Currently, Michigan is one of 26 states that prevents workers from being fired for not belonging to a union.

Though Michigan is right to work, employees still face challenges trying to exercise their freedom, as explained by The Washington Free Beacon. In many cases, workers simply don’t know they are free to drop membership.

Vernuccio said that employee education is key. The 2013 implementation of right to work in his native Michigan was accompanied by union legal challenges and obstruction. Unions only allowed members to withdraw from the organizations during short windows of time and reported former union members to collection agencies in order to maintain the flow of union dues.

Vernuccio said the NEFW hopes to empower workers in order to combat intimidation tactics.

“Time and again we’ve heard union leaders say that it’s not their job to inform their membership on how to exercise their rights, so we’ve made it our job,” he said.

Read the full op-ed in The Detroit News here.

Read the full Washington Examiner article here.

Read the full Politico article here.

Read the full article in The Washington Free Beacon here.

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A Look at Unions in Michigan, Five Years After Right-to-Work