Right to Work Laws

1 January 2017

Should our state adopt a right-to-work law? This is a hot topic that continues to be contested all over the United States. The purpose of this paper is to examine whether the right-to-work law is good for the state of Michigan. If ever passed in Michigan, the right-to-work law would guarantee that no person could be compelled, as a condition of employment, to join or to pay dues to a labor union.

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Supporters of right-to-work laws point to research that say that right-to-work laws have a positive effect on states that adopt them while opponents of right-to-work laws do just the opposite.

On February 1, 2012, the state of Indiana became America’s 23rd right-to-work state. Supporters of the right-to-work laws say that “Michigan may need to adopt such a law to better compete for jobs and talent” (Lafaive, 2012). Further supporting this issue Thomas Holmes authored a study that “examined manufacturing employment in border counties of neighboring states where one state had right-to-work protections and the other did not. He found manufacturing employment as a percentage of county population increased by one-third in the counties within the right-to-work states compared to those in the non-right-to-work states.

In a 2010 study by economist Richard Vedder, an adjunct scholar with the Mackinac Center, found that “40 percent of Americans lived in right-to-work states in 2007, up from 28. 5 percent in 1970. Moreover, Census data indicates that from April 2000 to July 2008, more than 4. 7 million people moved from non-right-to-work states to a right-to-work state” (Lafaive, 2012). These are only a few examples of external factors and findings that influence and impact the work forces and labor unions.

While I have explained the ideas behind the supporters of these laws, there are also opponents. In a more recent 2012 study from Michael Hicks, an adjunct scholar with the Mackinac Center, “found that from 1929 through 2005, the presence of a right-to-work law did not play a role in state industrial composition or income from manufacturing” (Lafaive, 2012). Opponents of right-to-work laws contend the laws set in place lead to lower wages, hurt unions, lower standard of living, and sometimes contest that they are morally wrong for allowing people to receive union representation without actually paying for it.

Douglas McCabe, a professor of management at Georgetown’s McDonough School of Business states, “If more states pass right-to-work, unions will lose members. He goes on to saying that it would discourage people from signing authorization cards to be able to hold a vote on unionizing” (Olson, 2012). CONCLUSION: “Each side of the right-to-work argument cites studies to back their views, but a uniform economic society is hard to find because individual states have their own, unique economic circumstances, such as availability of skilled workers and access to markets and infrastructure” (Olson, 2012).

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