Michigan Gov. Snyder signs right-to-work into law

Dec 11, 2012

It's a historic day for a state that's the birthplace of the labor movement.

Gov. Rick Snyder said he signed the 'right-to-work' bills that landed on his desk this evening into law.

Public and private-sector workers will no longer be compelled to pay union dues or fees if they choose not to.

"Right-to-work" laws are also known as "anti-dues" laws.

The laws are often confused with outlawing mandatory union membership.

Under federal law, mandatory union membership is already outlawed.

People can work in a "union shop," but not be a union member.

However, they are often required to support the union financially. The unions say these payments are necessary because their collective bargaining agreements benefit all workers.

Michigan law will outlaw the practice of mandatory financial support of unions in "union shops."

The law will go into effect 90 from the end of this legislative session, which puts it into early spring. It won't affect current union contracts that call for mandatory fees from members or non-members. Many contracts for auto workers, for example, won't expire until the fall of 2015.

In this evening's press conference, Snyder blamed the union's campaign to put collective bargaining into the state constitution earlier this year as the catalyst that brought the state to this point.

Snyder said he asked organizers of the Proposal 2 campaign to not go forward because he knew it would spur action on this legislation.

Snyder emphasized his belief that this legislation will be good for workers and for business in the state.

There's no concrete evidence that "right-to-work" laws improve economic conditions in a state. Studies have shown that income inequality is greater in right-to-work states. For more on that, see our post "Do right-to-work laws create jobs?"