Labor: Michigan right-to-work law continues to put labor on its heels

States, the federal government, organized labor and the NLRB all have a stake in this debate

Michigan became the 24th state to pass “right-to-work” legislation on Dec.11, amid scenes of protest reminiscent of the Wisconsin, Indiana and Ohio capitals in recent years. The law means that public and private sector employers cannot require employees to become union members or pay union dues as a condition of employment. So-called right-to-work states differ from union-security states, where the law allows collective bargaining agreements to require all employees to join the union or pay union dues. TheMichiganright-to-work law came as a surprise to many because it was introduced and passed in a matter of days. 

The Michigan law is yet another powerful blow to labor dealt by states over the last few years. In 2011, Wisconsin was at the center of a national polemic caused by Governor Scott Walker’s law, popularly known as Act 10, which removed collective bargaining rights from public employees. This law proved to be the beginning of a snowball effect as a wave of legislation followed inOhioandIndianaaffecting both public and private sector workers. Although later repealed, Ohio implemented legislation similar to the Wisconsin law that prevented public employees from collectively bargaining on significant issues related to their employment. Indiana became the first state in several years to pass right-to-work legislation.

Contributing Author

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Mark Spognardi

Mark Spognardi is a partner at Arnstein & Lehr. He focuses on representing management in traditional and non-traditional labor and employment law matters, including counseling,...

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Contributing Author

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Jesse Dill

Jesse R. Dill is an associate in the Milwaukee office of Arnstein & Lehr. He is a member of the firm’s Labor & Employment Practice Group....

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