The Mackinac Center’s founders gave us a mandate to make Michigan the freest and most prosperous state in the country. On top of the list were two ambitious goals: Make Michigan a right-to-work state and achieve universal school choice.
So aspirational was the prospect of right-to-work that for 20 years, some of our friends advised us to stop talking about it. It was not a realistic goal, they said. But then, as now, we asked, “If not Mackinac, then who?”
The Mackinac Center exists to shift the Overton Window on aspirational matters in the direction of sound, free-market policy. Or, to paraphrase the legendary economist Milton Friedman, to take that which is politically impossible and create an environment where it becomes politically inevitable.
Right-to-work was too important for us to sit on the sidelines. It is the single most important labor policy states can enact. Right-to-work states have seen greater growth in jobs and wages than have states with forced unionization. They have enjoyed greater population growth, as many people, perhaps including your children and grandchildren, move to states with greater economic and labor freedom.
And, most important of all, the law is moral. It protects the right of people to choose freely whether to give money to labor unions — or not. The freedom to refrain is valuable, given that unions often support political causes workers disagree with.
With your partnership, we lit up the exits once right-to- work was enacted. We helped guide countless workers through the opt-out process so they can keep more of their hard-earned dollars for their own concerns, starting with their families.
As workers leave unions, unions’ political power declines. So in 2021, over the objections of deflated teachers unions, legislators passed a major school choice bill.
This was driven by parents who were sick of union- backed school shutdowns and the realization that government schools all too often benefit a select group of adults at the expense of children. After Gov. Gretchen Whitmer quietly vetoed the legislation, hundreds of thousands of citizens signed a ballot proposal to go around her.
The advances we have made for worker and parental rights show what can be accomplished with your partnership. We expect the governor and new legislative leaders to make a full-on assault on right-to-work next year. With your help, we will respond