It’s safe to say that the 2022 midterm election changed how state policymakers are assessing opportunities for policy change in 2023 – particularly on labor reform. For some states, like Florida and Oklahoma, worker freedom is likely to expand as a result of changes at the legislative and administrative levels. For others, like our home state of Michigan, critical worker protections that already exist – such as right-to-work – may suddenly be in jeopardy of repeal.
Workers for Opportunity, the national labor initiative of the Mackinac Center, stands ready to advance and defend worker freedom across the country this year, going where opportunities and threats to workers’ rights emerge. We’ve built an impressive track record of success over the last four years and expect 2023 to be our biggest year yet.
Thanks to our work, teachers in Indiana are now being informed, upon their hire and at the start of every school year, of their right not to join a union. Oklahoma’s governor similarly ordered the State Board of Education to ensure teachers in the Sooner State are afforded the same right. The attorneys general of Texas, Alaska and Indiana all issued opinions in support of this interpretation of the United States Supreme Court’s 2018 decision in Janus v. AFSCME. These state interpretations say public employees can only have money taken from their paychecks if they are aware that they do not need to pay the dues, but consent to pay them anyway. None of these actions would have happened without Workers for Opportunity’s leadership, and we’re just getting started.
In 2023, we continue to advance legislation, work with aligned governors and administrations, convene meetings with state and national allies, litigate when we must challenge harmful labor laws, and influence public support for protecting worker freedom.
Among the issues that Workers for Opportunity will address are “workers’ voting rights,” or forcing public unions to periodically hold recertification elections. Another reform is an opt-in requirement by which public employees consent before union dues are withheld from their paychecks. Protecting employee privacy in union elections is another goal, as is reforming union “release time” privileges that use taxpayer dollars to finance public employees’ time spent on union business.
We will also be sharing more about a National Advisory Board for Workers for Opportunity. Stay tuned over the coming months to hear more about how this board will increase our engagement and elevate our credibility with key stakeholders around the country.
To learn more about Workers for Opportunity, please visit www.WorkersForOpportunity.org.