MIDLAND, Mich. — The Michigan House is expected to vote later tonight on House Bills 4004 and 4005, which seek to repeal the state’s right-to-work law. The bills were voted out of committee earlier this morning. Right-to-work makes it illegal to require workers to pay dues or fees to a union in order to hold a job.
For decades, right-to-work states have been seeing better job growth, significant household income growth and higher population growth than forced unionization states. Public support for right-to-work continues to be high. Recent polling found the vast majority of Michiganders support the law, including union households.
“At its core, right-to-work is about ensuring that workers have a choice and their voices are heard,” said Steve Delie, director of labor policy at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. “Everyone should have the freedom to decide whether to pay a union, and no one should fear losing their job for exercising that choice.”
Repealing the private- and public-sector right-to-work laws is an attempt to force at least 140,000 workers who have resigned their membership to pay dues or fees. By forcing tens of thousands of people to pay a union, the state is essentially imposing a $600 to $1,000 tax on working class Michiganders. These workers include:
Terry Bowman, an autoworker at Ford's Rawsonville Plant. Terry resigned from the United Auto Workers, which has seen two of its past presidents and a host of other union leaders prosecuted for rampant corruption. “I believe strongly in our constitutional right to the freedom of association – which means the freedom not to associate,” Bowman said. “The UAW of today is not the UAW of our fathers and grandfathers. It just wasn’t right that I was forced to pay an outside, third-party organization my hard-earned money simply in order to work.”
Lee Mills, a Kroger employee, who said he has a good relationship with management and would prefer to negotiate on his own behalf. Michigan Democratic Attorney General Dana Nessel had to step in on his behalf after the United Food and Commercial Workers repeatedly took out dues he didn't want to pay. “I am a part-time employee who receives no paid time off, health, medical or dental benefits,” Mills said. “There is no benefit to being part of a union.”
Elizabeth Akers, a teacher in Bloomfield Hills, who disagrees with the political stances of the Michigan Education Association and didn't want to contribute money to defending employees with disciplinary issues. “I did not agree with the union for many reasons. They never represented the needs of the group of teachers that I belonged to (elementary or elective teachers), only the high school teachers," Akers said, adding that she uses the $900 a year she saves on family needs.
Mike Williams, a paraprofessional for a vocational program in Traverse City. Mike was a former vice president at his local union, but he resigned when he realized the employees in his unit could successfully negotiate their own contract without a statewide union. The $400-$500 in dues were not worth it.
“Repealing Michigan's right-to-work law will have dire economic consequences for our state, which will reverberate nationally and even internationally,” said Jarrett Skorup, vice president for marketing and communications at the Mackinac Center. “The Michigan Legislature would be the first state to repeal private sector right-to-work in over half a century. In doing so, Michigan is tying its future to an economic model that is obsolete and declaring allegiance to a small slice of the private sector workforce that has been dwindling for decades"
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