Implement Michigan’s Right to Work Law

Author: Charles Owens Date: January 11, 2014


Implement Michigan’s Right to Work Law

Landmark legislation making Michigan a Right to Work state was passed at the end of the 2012 session; however the fight for worker freedom has just begun. Already the Civil Service Commission is claiming that state employees are not covered by the law and many labor unions renegotiated contracts as far out as possible before the law’s effective date. These actions, and others, mean that NFIB, the NFIB Small Business Legal Foundation and labor freedom advocates will be working to ensure that Michigan’s Right to Work law is implemented as intended.

Years of effort by NFIB in supporting Right to Work finally paid off as landmark legislation was pushed through in the last weeks of the 2012 Lame Duck session that makes Michigan the 24th Right to Work state. The final vote came after a day of demonstrations and violence by labor unions and activists opposed to the legislation. This will be the most important economic reform in decades and it will make Michigan immediately more competitive regionally, nationally and internationally.

On December 11, 2012, Michigan became the 24th Right to Work state when Governor Snyder signed Public Act 348. Because the legislation was passed without immediate effect, it will become law on the 91st day after the Legislature adjourns, so Right to Work will be the law in Michigan on or about April 1, 2013.

The new Right to Work law allows most employees to work at a business without being forced to join a union and pay union dues. There are exemptions and the law will not apply to all workers. Firefighters, local and state law enforcement officers, those represented by federal unions, employees protected under federal laws (such as the Railway Labor Act) and some other transportation workers, agricultural workers and domestic workers are not covered by the law.

Public Act 348 will not immediately apply to businesses that have existing collective bargaining agreements when the law takes effect. Therefore, if your current labor agreement extends beyond the effective date of the law (on or about April 1, 2013), payment of union dues will remain mandatory until that labor agreement expires. For example, you have an existing labor agreement that does not expire until 2015; union dues will continue to be mandatory until 2015 at the earliest. If you negotiate a new labor agreement between now and April 1, 2013, your employees will be saddled with mandatory dues payments until that yet-to-be negotiated labor agreement expires. This is why we have heard reports of labor unions trying to renegotiate contracts as far out as possible before the law’s effective date.

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