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Economists cast doubt about Right to Work benefits

Supporters of making Michigan a "right to work" state expect legislation will be introduced in January. Critics call such laws "right to work for less."

A number of other mid-west states have already passed Right to Work laws .   Some Economists say proponents may be misleading the public about the positive effects of Michigan’s Right to Work.

Manufacturing jobs are about 15 percent of the United States economy and that's the job segment Right to Work focuses on.  That’s according to Dr. Gordon Lafer, Economics Professor at the University of Oregon. 

He researches right to work issues around the country, and says in Oklahoma the results were far less attractive than proponents suggested.  "Five years after Right to work was adopted, General Motors shut down a plant in Oklahoma City -- laid off 25 hundred people and moved the work to Mexico because Mexican auto workers make a tenth of what even non-union auto workers make in the US."

Lafer says more states are implementing these laws and that nullifies the ability for any state to stand out for attracting new jobs.   But he said it means lower wages and higher benefits expenses for workers in all industries.

Dr. Roland Zullo, a research scientist for the Institute for Labor and Industrial relations at the U of M says "there’s no convincing evidence out there that Right to Work in and of itself improves the economic environment of the state."

Zullo says areas where Right to Work have been successful were in the south and non-coastal western states where they are trying to catch up to more industrialized states like Michigan.

-  Chris Zollars, Michigan Radio Newsroom

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