By Teresa Welsh |
Over the protests of thousands of union workers and labor activists, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder signed two pieces of "right-to-work" legislation Tuesday, scaling back union involvement in both the public and private sectors. Starting in March, the laws will allow individual workers employed in unionized industries to opt of paying dues to labor organizations. Though Michigan is the 24th state to enact such legislation, it has long been a bastion of labor's political power, so the laws' passage has national implications.
Proponents of such right-to-work laws say workers should have choice whether to join a union or not. Many have also blamed labor for the economic issues the U.S. manufacturing and other industries are facing, arguing that unions make these industries less competitive on the global stage. Supporters also say the laws will make Michigan more attractive to businesses and create more jobs for the state.
Opponents say the law allows some workers to freeload on the benefits unions fight for, including increases in pay, expansion of benefits, and safer working conditions. They worry that such laws further dismantle the labor organizations they say have historically have protected working and middle class Americans. Critics say such legislation will lead to lower wages, less benefits, and worse working conditions for employees.
Are right-to-work laws good for states? Here is the Debate Club's take:
James Sherk Senior Policy Analyst at the Heritage Foundation.