Legislation repealing Michigan's "right to work" law, which prohibited mandatory union dues for workers, was signed by Governor Gretchen Whitmer on March 27, 2023. The decision received both positive and negative reactions from politicians and the general public.
"This legislation specifically has a $1 million appropriation slapped onto it so that it is not subject to a referendum under the Michigan state Constitution.
— Hannah Cox (@HannahDCox) March 27, 2023
Despite the Democratic Party's assertion of being the party of workers' rights, the repeal of the right to work law has encountered opposition from numerous Republicans in the Michigan legislature. GOP leader Matt Hall contends that the law's removal would deter businesses from Michigan, leading to a decline in job prospects and a harmful economic outcome. The Michigan chapter of the fiscally conservative group, Americans for Prosperity, echoed similar concerns, claiming that the deprivation of private-sector union members' right to decide whether or not to join a union would adversely affect Michigan's workforce.
Unions made Michigan a hub of American business, and an engine of America’s middle class.
A strong middle class benefits everybody.
Michigan is leading as a great place to be a worker and a great place to do business. https://t.co/1hJiOaDg9c
— President Biden (@POTUS) March 24, 2023
Numerous studies have scrutinized the economic effects of repealing the right to work law. According to a comprehensive study conducted by NERA Economic Consulting, states that implement right-to-work laws are more likely to entice businesses and demonstrate superior employment rates compared to states that do not. Despite critics' contentions that right-to-work laws cause a decrease in wages, this research deduced that the evidence does not corroborate this assertion.
Apart from the previously mentioned reasons, the elimination of the right to work law has attracted criticism on another front. During Gretchen Whitmer's gubernatorial campaign, she pledged not to authorize bills that impede the public's ability to vote via referendum or abolish the law. Nonetheless, this legislation has a $1 million appropriation attached to it, preventing it from being subjected to a referendum according to the Michigan state Constitution. Many have viewed this move as a breach of her campaign vow and an effort to thwart public participation in the matter.
The abolition of the right to work law is generally considered a win for labor unions as it enables them to collect more funds by imposing mandatory union dues on workers. This gives them more resources to contribute to Democratic politicians, such as Gretchen Whitmer. It is evident that this repeal of the law is influenced by financial and political interests rather than being a demonstration of the prioritization of workers' rights.