Michigan Right to Work

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Introduction:
The Michigan Right to Work law went into effect on March 27, 2013. This law has two parts to it; one is for the public sector workers and the other is for the private sector workers. This law was pushed through the senate and the house within five days. Should Michigan have become a Right to Work state? What does the Right to Work law entail and how is Michigan’s Right to Work law different for the United Nations understanding of a right to work as a human right? The purpose of this paper is to examine the research currently available to decide whether Michigan should have become a Right to Work law. To make this decision, this paper primarily focuses on how Right to Work laws affect a state’s people: their wages, the growth of employment rate, the growth in population and their morality. In examining the moral issues associated with Right to Work laws, this paper looks at “forced union dues” and the “free rider” issue. This paper will also examine how the Michigan Right to Work law differs or is the same as The United Nations understanding of right to work as a human right. After weighing the pros and cons of Michigan Right to Work laws this paper concludes that the law should be a net benefit to Michigan because the benefits to a state’s people outweigh the costs: Right to Work laws create jobs and spur economic activity.

History of Right to Work:
All but six of the states that have Right to Work laws adopted them in the 1940’s and 1950’s after the passage of the Taft-Hartley Act of 1947. The Taft-Hartley Act, which allows states to make Right to Work laws, was enacted in response to the belief that the pro-union Wagner Act of 1935 gave unions too much power (Taft-Hartley Act). The Wagner Act gave and still gives unions the power of exclusive representation, which allows them to act as the voice of all of a company’s employees if the union can get more than fifty percent of the employees to vote for a union: “Thus, if 100 employees are in the collective bargaining unit and only ten decide to vote, then the union only needs to get six votes in order to represent all 100 employees” (Court and Hunter). After a union gains the power of exclusive representation they will often persuade employers to include union security clauses in their collective bargaining agreements. Prior to the Taft-Hartley Act union security clauses could come in three different forms. Each form would make the employer one of the following types of shops (Court and Hunter):

• Agency Shop: The union’s contract does not mandate that all employees join the union, but it does mandate that the employees pay union dues. • Union Shop: The union’s contract requires that all employees join the union within a specified amount of time of becoming employed. • Closed Shop: The union’s contract mandates that the employer only hire union members. The Taft-Hartley Act of 1947 outlawed the closed shop arrangement. Moreover, section 14(b) of this Act made Right to Work laws legal and gave states the power to pass laws to outlaw both agency and union shops. If one lives in a state without Right to Work laws and one’s employer is unionized as an agency or union shop, that person would be required to join the union or at least pay union dues. The employee would also be represented by the union, and bound by the union’s contract. On the other hand, if one lives in a Right to Work state, and the workplace is unionized, they would generally still be represented by the union and bound by the union contract, but would not be required to join the union or pay union dues.

Easy Breakdown:
Right to WorkNon-Right to Work
Union is required to represent employeeYesYes
Employee is bound by union contractYesYes
Union is the employee’s exclusive bargaining agentYesYes Employee is required to join union or pay union duesNoYes

Michigan Right to Work:
Michigan became the 24th Right to Work State on March 27, 2013. This law was...
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