Is Michigan Jumping on the Right-to-Work Bandwagon?

You may have seen or heard about protests last week against “right-to-work” legislation pending in Lansing. And, you may be wondering what that legislation entails and how it might affect your company. The “right-to-work” law will prohibit unions from requiring employees to join a union or pay union dues as a condition of employment. Violators would be subject to civil fines and to claims for damages. Proponents of this legislation argue that it will give new employees more choice and will attract new businesses to Michigan. Opponents see it as a means to restrict unions’ power. Both the Michigan House and Senate have passed portions of the package of bills. The Legislature could approve the entire package of bills and have them ready for the Governor’s signature as early as tomorrow morning. If the law is passed, Michigan will join 23 states with similar laws. Practically speaking, if you have union contracts in place, this new law may not yet affect you. Unions will likely argue that Michigan law prohibits a statute from abrogating an existing labor contract. They’ll claim that workers in Michigan should not be able to opt out of the union until the current union contracts expire. How this will all work out remains to be seen.