Michigan Unions Fail to Change Constitution; Will Right to Work Come Knocking?

A major ballot effort in our neighbor to the north that would have essentially ensconced collective bargaining as a state constitutional right failed to curry favor with voters last night and lost by a wide margin.

The loss may also resurrect serious discussion of a right to work law being looked at in Michigan.  As Bloomberg reports,

“If anything, however, they hurt their cause. Ever since Indiana became the first right-to-work state in the Rust Belt earlier this year — and 23rd in the country — Governor Snyder has been under tremendous pressure from his party, which controls both legislative chambers, to push a right-to-work law in Michigan as well. Snyder resisted because he wanted to concentrate on tax and regulatory changes and avoid a distracting fight with unions.

But conservative lawmakers are going to interpret the resounding defeat for the ballot proposition as essentially a mandate for a right-to-work law in the state. It is now unclear whether Snyder will have the will or the clout to hold them at bay.

High labor costs are the biggest obstacle deterring manufacturers from setting up shop in Michigan, depressing employment. If Michigan had been a right-to-work state, according to research by economist Hari Singh of Grand Valley State University, the auto industry, for example, would have seen a 25 percent gain in jobs since 1965. Instead, it lost 56.6 percent just from 2002 to 2009, shrinking its work force by 165,777.

Even before the collective-bargaining measure, polls showed that 50 to 60 percent of Michigan residents supported a right- to-work law. That number will no doubt be even higher now. If Michigan goes that route, it will become difficult for non- right-to-work states to resist and remain competitive.”

Far be it for a Buckeye to take a lesson from a Wolverine, but if Michigan joins Indiana as a Right to Work state, other Rust Belt states must consider following.

Greg R. Lawson

About Greg R. Lawson

Greg R. Lawson is the Statehouse Liaison and Policy Analyst with the Buckeye Institute
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2 comments on “Michigan Unions Fail to Change Constitution; Will Right to Work Come Knocking?

  1. Bob Magee on said:

    It’s about Capitalism. Companies, CEOs, & Unions want a piece of the pie, but it’s so easy to blame the Unions.
    Right-to-Work’s dirty little secret is about unions losing funding, thus less PAC money from unions, thus the opposing view of unions become stronger PACs. Maybe that isn’t so secret?

  2. If Michigan becomes a right-to-work state, Kasich will have no choice but to follow suit.

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