Why is Michigan “Right to Work” a big deal?

Michigan, the birthplace of the United Autoworkers union, passed right-to-work legislation that will prohibit coercing workers to pay union dues as a condition of employment. As it currently stands in Michigan, teachers, firefighters, home healthcare providers, and others must automatically pay a portion of their salaries to unions.

Forced unionization is wrong for moral and economic reasons. Unions today are very political in nature. For example, the SEIU contributed more than $60 million dollars to Obama’s campaign alone in 2008. Forcing people to pay a portion of their paycheck to a political organization is fundamentally immoral. The Mackinac Center for Public Policy has exposed this scheme for what it is:

The SEIU has taken over $33 million from the elderly and disabled in Michigan in the last six years through a unionization scheme it orchestrated when Jennifer Granholm was governor. The majority of these people had no idea they were being forced into a union.

The video of the Haynes family, below,  is an example of this.

In addition to being morally wrong, the economic benefits of right to work are evident. The 23 other state that have enacted right-to-work legislation prove that business growth and improvement are a result of increased workplace choice.

Of the ten states with the highest unemployment rates, seven have compulsory union membership, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Michigan ranks forty-sixth out of the fifty states and the District of Columbia with a 9.1 percent unemployment rate. (Source: Capitol Vanguard)

Despite the compelling moral and economic basis for right-to-work, there was a battle going on to undermine the efforts in Michigan that we will likely see in all other states that attempt to pass these sorts of reforms. When union dues are not compulsory, the unions become fearful of losing power. We saw the visceral reaction by protesters in this report from the state Capitol yesterday:

Assembling by choice and creating voluntary unions is a rich part of our history, but the system has been taken too far by union leaders who use coercive measures to maintain their political power. Michigan is a bright spot that provides hope to other states looking to improve workplace freedom and economic opportunity.