Michigan Soon to Be a Right-to-Work State?

Michigan Protests

Thousands are protesting after a Right-to-Work measure passes in the Michigan legislature 58 to 51.

The bill prohibits unions from forcing public sector employees to join and pay dues after being hired for a job.

Outside 12,000 protesters booed as the measure passed, 58-51, bringing it one step closer to being signed into law. The house is now currently scheduled to vote on the right-to-work bill for private sector employees, which would include companies in Michigan’s auto industry.

If this measure passes, Michigan will become the twenty-fourth right-to-work state, where 17.5% of the workforce is unionized.

Labor leaders are already scrambling for ways to reverse the legislation. Unfortunately many of the paths are blocked by the fact that the legislation is attached to an appropriations bill. This means it can’t be reversed by referendum. It’s also too risky for leaders to seek litigation where in the past judges have struck down parts of a collective bargaining law.

However, there is one option. A statutory initiative would be permitted if opponents of the bill collect enough signatures to equal 8% of the votes cast in the last gubernatorial election. A “veto referendum” could be triggered if there are only enough signatures to equal 5% of the votes case.

The initiative would then put the law into the hands of the people and allow voters to cast their ballot on the right-to-work legislation in November 2014. A senior labor leader stated:

“There are multiple options for a referendum. All options are on the table. This fight is far from over.”

The vote would take place when Governor Rick Snyder, who has said he supports the legislation, would be up for reelection.


What do you think about the right-to-work legislation?