Although right-to-work continues to be strongly supported by a majority of Michigan residents, the state House recently approved bills to repeal our state’s RTW law.
Only 29% of Michigan residents support repealing the law, a recent Glengariff Group poll found. A total of 88% of state voters believe workers should have the right to choose whether to join a labor union, according to another recent poll from SurveyUSA.
It’s easy to see why right-to-work is consistently popular with Michigan workers.
Linda Smith is a home healthcare worker who provides around-the-clock care for her special needs brother. She was the victim of a questionable practice called “dues skimming” for several years. The state was paying her a modest $368 per month that didn’t cover her brother’s expenses, but Linda was also forced to pay $24 a month to the Service Employees International Union.
The scheme was so egregious that Michigan enacted a law to protect home healthcare workers like Linda. “I was very angry. Where is my freedom? How can they come in here and tell me they are going to do this and I have to abide by it?” Linda asked, in a recent interview with Michigan Capitol Confidential.
Mike Williams is a paraprofessional who was ignored by the Michigan Education Association, so he opted out of the union soon after right-to-work went into effect in 2013. After 10 years on the job, his hourly wage had only increased by 70 cents, and union fees of up to $500 annually were taking a hit on his take-home pay.
Mike later made the decision to rejoin the union to show solidarity with his co-workers during contract negotiations, but was quickly disillusioned again after he and his colleagues were able to negotiate their contract without any help from the state MEA.
If right-to-work is repealed, Mike could be forced to join the MEA again and start paying dues to an organization that doesn’t benefit him.
No one should ever be forced to join a union to get or keep a job. Our state also will miss out on key economic development projects that could bring good-paying jobs to our communities. Now more than ever, we need to contact our state legislators to let them know why preserving right-to-work is so important for our state’s future.