Michigan Incomes Higher Than They Were Prior to Forced-Dues Ban
On March 28, it will have been exactly 10 years since the landmark legislation making Michigan America’s 24th Right to Work state took effect.
Right to Work protections have benefited Michigan employees first and foremost by eliminating Big Labor’s unwarranted power to get them fired for refusal to support financially a union that they would never join voluntarily.
But Wolverine State employees and other citizens are clearly also better off now economically than they were pre-Right to Work, according to a wide array of important economic criteria.
Unfortunately, “facts have never gotten in the way of Big Labor and its allies when they are attacking worker freedom,” as National Right to Work Committee Vice President John Kalb recently noted.
To gauge just how successful Michigan’s Right to Work law has been in helping the state become more prosperous, it makes sense, Mr. Kalb added, to look back at how the state was doing before Right to Work.
The Wolverine State was the epicenter of the deindustrialization that occurred across much of the Midwest starting in the 1970s and 1980s. This was largely a product of greed and corruption among Big Labor bosses in the manufacturing industries.
Michigan lost more manufacturing jobs than any other state, and its losses went on for a longer period.
And from around 2000 until well into Barack Obama’s first presidential term, Michigan experienced what has since been called a “Lost Decade.” Economic growth virtually vanished, there was a net decline in the state population due to massive out-migration, and the labor force declined significantly.
Right to Work Ushered in An Era of Sustained Growth
In the wake of the Great Recession, Michigan’s unemployment rate soared to over 14%. When Right to Work passed in late 2012, it was still an unacceptably high 9%.
But the legislation banning the extraction of forced union dues and fees from employees as a job condition that was adopted by lawmakers who stood up to the union hierarchy and signed by then-Gov. Rick Snyder ushered in an era of sustained growth.
With Right to Work’s implementation, Michigan’s unemployment rate fell, year after year. By late 2019, seasonally adjusted unemployment was below 4%, a lower level than the state had seen in nearly two decades.
With more good jobs available, far fewer people fled the state. Population rose above 10 million for the first time since before the Great Recession, and the labor force also grew by 90,000 as unemployment plummeted.
From 2005 to 2012, the last year before Right to Work, Michigan’s inflation-adjusted median household income fell by 13.4%. From 2012 through 2019, the state’s real median household income rose by 14.2%. Inflation-adjusted manufacturing wages grew by 12% from 2012 to 2021.
In short, Michigan has come a long way over the last decade, and the freedom-loving citizens who, with National Right to Work’s assistance, fought for many years to ban forced union dues and fees before they finally succeeded deserve much of the credit.
But all their deserved success could be overturned if union officials who are pushing the Big Labor Democrats who now rule the roost in Lansing to repeal Right to Work get their way.
Despite the data, Big Labor claims it is seeking to destroy Right to Work to “help” Michigan workers.
Growth and Development In Jeopardy Due to Big Labor Politics
But even longtime New York Times labor reporter Steven Greenhouse, probably the union bosses’ most reliable mouthpiece in American journalism, admits that a major motivator for Right to Work foes in Michigan is politics.
As Mr. Greenhouse has explained, Big Labor bosses accurately perceive that compulsory unionism makes it even easier for them to elect and reelect their favored politicians.
Mr. Kalb observed: “Steven Greenhouse is actually understating things. The reality is that the anti-Right to Work drive in Michigan is all about politics.”
Mr. Kalb acknowledged that saving Michigan’s Right to Work law will be an uphill battle.
But the Committee is now pouring money and manpower into what is expected to be an all-out fight.
“The Committee will never back down from a battle when freedom is on the line,” declared Mr. Kalb.