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 Although later repealed, Ohio implemented legislation similar to the Wisconsin law that prevented public employees from collectively bargaining on significant issues related to their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.