Pro-labor elected officials in Michigan this week pushed the state one step closer to restoring workers’ right to collectively bargain and ensuring workers are offered competitive wages.
House Democrats voted to repeal the state’s decade-old so-called “right-to-work” law in a 56-53, party-line vote. In 2012, the country watched as SMART members joined over 10,000 fellow union workers and their supporters at the State Capitol in Lansing to protest the Republican-led effort to make Michigan a right-to-work state. Unfortunately, those protests were unsuccessful. Under right-to-work, union membership in Michigan fell from 17.1% of the workforce in 2012 to 15.3% last year.
Michigan is one of 27 states with right-to-work laws. Right-to-work laws, championed by corporations and employers looking to pad their profits, were designed to weaken unions and decrease pay and benefits. Now – thanks in no small part to the votes of SMART members, which helped Democrats win the state house, senate and governor’s office – Michigan could become the first state in nearly 60 years to repeal its right-to-work law.
House Democrats also voted along party lines to restore the state’s prevailing wage law for publicly funded state construction projects. This would guarantee that workers are paid fairly and ensure wages are reinvested in local communities, ultimately benefiting taxpayers. Republicans repealed the state’s 50-year-old prevailing wage law in 2018.
“What is happening in Michigan offers an example of what’s possible when SMART members and voters across the state join together to elect pro-worker candidates,” said SMART General President Joseph Sellers. “After 10 years of anti-worker policy designed to weaken our ability to collectively bargain for better wages and workplace protections, this is a vital step in the right direction that was won by the tireless advocacy of union workers.”