Gretchen Whitmer, the Democratic Governor of Michigan, has recently set in motion new pieces of legislation seeking to repeal a number of right-to-work laws within the state this past Friday, the first time such laws have been up for changes in close to fifty years.
These right-to-work measures had previously let residents decline membership into unions in their workplaces and exempted them from being made to pay dues to unions. Whitmer and other Democrats still chose to celebrate the repeal, which they see as a massive win for a number of labor unions.
“Today, we are coming together to restore workers’ rights, protect Michiganders on the job, and grow Michigan’s middle class,” exclaimed Whitmer. “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.”
Democrats in Michigan took control of both chambers of the legislature, along with the governor’s office, for the first time since 1983 in the wake of the midterm elections, allowing them to set up repeals to the right-to-work laws signed by former Republican Gov. Rick Snyder.
Unions have seen drops in memberships to the tune of 143,000 in the wake of the right-to-work law being put in place back in 2012, as reported by an analysis coming from the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. There are currently 26.5% fewer workers handing over membership fees to the largest unions in the state; particularly severe losses occurred for the Service Employees International Union, which reported a close to 66% decline in membership throughout the period of 2012 and 2022, as well as the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees which reported a decline in 49%. The American Federation of Teachers and the Michigan Education Association each reported 32% drops in their membership.
Whitmer, who recently secured re-election this past November, was able to secure at least $2.25 million from the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers. She previously also was the target of criticism for calling for the end of virtual instruction throughout the state’s government-funded schools as late as March 2021.
Matt Hall, the House Republican Leader, condemned the repeal of these right-to-work laws while issuing statements last week, claiming that this new legislation would ward away companies from moving to the state and end up causing a worse climate for employment in the state.
“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.”