MIDLAND, Mich. — Right-to-work laws are good for workers, unions and state economies, according to a study released today by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. The report provides an in-depth review of the history and purpose of right-to-work laws, with a special focus on Michigan’s 10-year experience as a right-to-work state.
Right-to-work laws prohibit firing workers for not paying a union. More than 140,000 Michiganders have decided to leave their union since Michigan passed right-to-work in 2012. Contrary to critics’ claims, these laws do not ban unions or make it harder to collectively bargain. They simply offer workers a choice in supporting a union. This encourages unions to be more responsive to their members.
The study breaks down the legal and practical distinctions between how right-to-work impacts private sector and public sector workers. Private sector labor regulations are primarily dictated by federal law, while states control public sector issues. But the 2018 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Janus v. AFSCME provides constitutional protections to all public employees, including the freedom to not pay a union.
The report also identifies a host of economic and noneconomic benefits for states with right-to-work protections. Right-to-work states tend to have gross state product, overall employment, manufacturing employment, construction employment and per-capita disposable income growth that exceeds non-right-to-work states. Right-to-work states attract people: Interstate migration to right-to-work states was four times higher than to non-right-to-work states. States with right-to-work protections also saw lower average unemployment, poverty rates, income inequality and labor costs.
“Right-to-work frees workers from having to associate with an organization they may be philosophically or morally opposed to,” said Steve Delie, director of labor policy at the Mackinac Center. “Unfortunately, if right-to-work is repealed in Michigan, 60,000 private sector workers who have chosen to opt-out of their union will face the very real threat of having to decide between joining a union or losing their job. No one should be put in a position to be forced to financially support groups or political causes they find objectionable.”
The Mackinac Center for Public Policy is a nonprofit research and educational institute that advances the principles of free markets and limited government. Through our research and education programs, we challenge government overreach and advocate for a free-market approach to public policy that frees people to realize their potential and dreams.
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