Tyranny Triumphs in the Great Lakes State

Ignoring ample evidence of forced unionism’s unfairness and its damaging impact on jobs and incomes, Big Labor Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed Right to Work destruction in 2023. This special-interest scheme is now in effect (Credit: WXYZ-TV (Detroit) / YouTube)

Union Bosses Relish Demise of Economy-Reviving Right to Work Law

In early 2023, gleeful Big Labor lobbyists steam-rolled legislation repealing Michigan’s decade-old Right to Work law through both chambers of the Legislature in Lansing, never doubting for a minute Democrat Gretchen Whitmer, their puppet governor, would sign it once she got the opportunity.

A year ago this March 24, Ms. Whitmer fulfilled their expectations, without ever making an even half-way serious effort to explain to her constituents how Right to Work destruction would benefit them.

Union bosses were ecstatic.

But until February 13 this year, they could only anticipate the pleasure of compelling workers under their monopoly-bargaining control to fork over union dues or fees, or be fired, because the new forced-unionism statute had yet to take effect.

Whether Unionism Benefits Them or Not, Workers Are Being Forced to Pay Dues

Now many unionized Michigan workers are already having compulsory Big Labor tribute money automatically deducted out of their paychecks. 

Union bosses can get away with this without ever getting the employer to consent to a new forced-dues contract if a so-called “snapback” forced-dues provision, designed to take effect immediately if Right to Work is repealed, is in the current contract.

National Right to Work Committee Vice President John Kalb commented: 

“Many of the Michigan workers who are now being forced to bankroll a union, or be fired, have good reason to believe being subject to union monopoly bargaining doesn’t help them, and may well hurt them, economically.

“For example, an ongoing compilation of federal data by labor economists Barry Hirsch, David Macpherson, and William Even recently reported that, in 2023, the mean hourly wage for union-free workers in the manufacturing sector was $39.46. 

That’s roughly 26% higher than the mean wage for manufacturing workers who belong to a union.

“Regardless of the reason why a worker chooses not to join a union, forcing him or her to support the union financially just isn’t fair.

“As syndicated columnist Jeff Jacoby explained last year, ‘coercing people to pay for representation they don’t want and can’t refuse’ is ‘extortion.’

“Unionized employees who are losing their freedom of choice are the primary victims of Right to Work destruction. But all kinds of employees will get hurt.”

History Indicates Employment Opportunities Will Plummet in Forced-Dues Michigan

Mr. Kalb explained:

“The fact is, hard numbers show Michigan was doing a miserable job of attracting and retaining well-paid employment for years and years prior to 2013, when its Right to Work law took effect.

“And the same data show the state became a much better place for employees and their families, as well as for business owners, with Right to Work on the books.

“For example, from 2002 to 2012, manufacturing employment in forced-unionism Michigan fell by 29.6%. 

This was a time when manufacturing employment nationwide was shrinking, but Michigan’s percentage loss was far greater than the national average.

“Right to Work Michigan’s experience was completely different. From 2013 to 2022, the number of manufacturing jobs in the state grew by 9.9%.

“That’s roughly five times greater than the average percentage gain in manufacturing jobs in the 23 remaining forced-dues states over the same period.”

Pro-forced unionism Michigan Democrat politicians who rammed through Right to Work destruction on straight party-line votes now boast they have “transformed” the state.

But they did so in brazen defiance of public opinion.

A statewide scientific poll conducted at the end of 2022 by the top-rated opinion research firm SurveyUSA showed that an overwhelming 88% of Michigan voters agree that workers should never be “forced, or coerced, to join a union or pay dues to a union.”

Big Labor Michigan politicians are calculating that the huge chasm between their agenda and voters’ wishes on labor policy won’t suffice to offset the massive forced-dues support they are beginning to reap now that Right to Work repeal has taken effect.

Mr. Kalb posited this could be a huge underestimate of the coming backlash:

“Decades of history show freedom-loving citizens punish politicians severely for voting to take away the freedom to get and keep a job without being forced to bankroll an unwanted union.

“And starting this summer, the Committee’s 2024 candidate survey program will ensure hundreds of thousands of Michigan citizens who are identified as opponents of forced unionism will have fresh in their minds exactly how their legislators voted on Right to Work repeal.”

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