Michigan Repeals ‘Right-To-Work’ Law In Major Victory For Unions
PONTIAC, MI - NOVEMBER 06: Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer speaks to supporters at a rally at the Crofoot Ballroom on November 6, 2022 in Pontiac, Michigan. (Photo by Sarah Rice/Getty Images)
Sarah Rice via Getty Images

Michigan Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer enacted legislation repealing right-to-work laws in the state on Friday, the first time such laws have been overturned in five decades.

The right-to-work measures had allowed residents to decline union membership in their workplaces and exempted them from being forced to pay union dues. Whitmer and other Democrats nevertheless celebrated the repeal, which marks a major victory for labor unions.

“Today, we are coming together to restore workers’ rights, protect Michiganders on the job, and grow Michigan’s middle class,” Whitmer said. “These bills will protect health and safety, ensuring healthcare workers can put patient care ahead of profit, construction workers can speak up when there’s a safety issue, and employees can call attention to food safety threats and other problems. Let’s continue delivering for working people.”

Michigan Democrats assumed control of the governor’s mansion and both chambers of the legislature for the first time since 1983 after the midterm elections, enabling them to repeal the right-to-work laws signed by former Republican Gov. Rick Snyder.

Unions have lost more than 143,000 members since the right-to-work laws entered into effect in 2012, according to an analysis from the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. There are now 26.5% fewer workers paying membership fees to the state’s largest unions; particularly severe losses occurred in the Service Employees International Union, which saw a nearly 66% decline in membership between 2012 and 2022, as well as the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, which saw a 49% decline. The American Federation of Teachers and the Michigan Education Association each witnessed 32% decreases in membership.

Whitmer, who won re-election in November, received at least $2.25 million from the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers. She previously received criticism for recommending the end of virtual instruction for the state’s government schools as late as March 2021.

House Republican Leader Matt Hall condemned the repeal of the right-to-work laws in a statement last week, asserting that the new legislation would deter firms from entering the state and thereby worsen employment outcomes.

“As Michigan struggles to compete for businesses and high-paying careers, Democrats are dead set on pushing forward their pay cut plan that would set our state, our workers, and our economy further behind. I’ve spoken to businesses looking to invest in Michigan and heard firsthand how repealing right-to-work would turn businesses away and let high-paying careers go to other states.”

One recent poll from the Mackinac Center found that 58% of voters supported the right-to-work laws, while only 29% opposed them. Some 71% of Republicans and right-leaning independents in Michigan supported the laws, while the 46% of Democrats and left-leaning independents who supported the laws outnumbered the 40% of their counterparts who were opposed.

Whitmer and allied Democratic lawmakers have also prioritized new gun control measures following their takeover of the legislature. One bill would institute a red flag law under which a judge could authorize the seizure of firearms from someone who is believed to be a risk to themselves or others. The legislation proposes to “provide for the issuance of restraining orders prohibiting certain individuals from possessing or purchasing firearms and ordering the surrender and seizure of a restrained individual’s firearms.”

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The Daily Wire   >  Read   >  Michigan Repeals ‘Right-To-Work’ Law In Major Victory For Unions