House Democrats mark new era by strengthening workers’ rights
LANSING, Mich., Feb. 4, 2024 — For the first time in 40 years, Democrats gained control of the Legislature and the governor’s office last year — with majority, they led a remarkably productive year, passing and signing into law a historic number of bills. A significant number of those laws go into effect on Feb. 13. In order to celebrate with and inform Michiganders, Dems are rolling out the Countdown to a Better Michigan project — each day leading up to Feb. 13, they will share about a different set of legislation soon becoming law. Included are laws to bolster workers — Democrats know that hard working Michiganders are the backbone of the state, which is why they took tangible action to support workers and protect their rights.
Michigan Democrats made putting workers first a central priority last year by repealing laws that weaken unions and restoring the state’s prevailing wage law. Dems plan to build on that foundation this year, making hard-working Michiganders a top focus by lowering costs and more.
“I’m pleased that we restored workers’ rights by repealing anti-worker laws,” said state Rep. Jim Haadsma (D-Battle Creek), chair of the House Committee on Labor. “Families across Michigan are struggling at the gas pump, cash register and pharmacy counter, and they shouldn’t have to break the bank to put food on their tables. History has shown that we can strike a balance between the interests of workers and businesses — employers and employees both need a seat at the table.”
An essential element of putting workers first for Michigan Dems is ensuring educators are valued and have a strong seat at the bargaining table. Among the bills soon taking effect are laws to bolster negotiation power and collective bargaining rights for school employees.
“Job security in the 21st century includes protecting workers’ rights when they speak up in solidarity for better wages and better working conditions,” state Rep. Regina Weiss (D-Oak Park), chair of the Labor Caucus and the House Appropriations Subcommittee on School Aid and Education. “Organized labor built the middle class, and working Michiganders are stronger today because of it. We’ve worked hard to put people first and to put more money than ever back into the pockets of working Michiganders. We’re continuing the longstanding Democratic tradition of standing up for workers.”
With House Bill 4044 (Public Act 113), House Dems staunchly advocated to repeal a provision of the Public Employment Relations Act (PERA) — this successfully eliminates wage freeze during contract negotiations. Once again, this Dem advocacy put workers and union members first by bringing justice to the workplace and dismantling restrictive laws.
“Collective bargaining is the linchpin of workplace justice, empowering employees to negotiate fair wages and benefits,” said state Rep. Joey Andrews (D-St. Joseph). “Our elimination of the constraining wage freeze during contract negotiations is a crucial step toward just and equitable compensation. And we’ll continue advocating for workers, whether on the House floor or on the picket line. Let’s make Michigan a place where labor is honored, and workers and businesses alike can thrive.”
House and Senate Democrats are working hard to transform Michigan into the best possible place to work, live and retire. In tandem with Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, Michigan Dems are galvanized to help working people and families achieve their dreams in Michigan.
“We’ve made incredible progress for working people since Democratic pro-worker majorities took the gavel in Lansing. From repealing anti-worker ‘right-to-work’ laws for the first time in nearly 60 years, to protecting paychecks by reinstating prevailing wage, to restoring collective bargaining rights for our teachers and school staff, Democrats are delivering on their promise to make Michigan a workers’ rights state. Last year’s accomplishments were historic, but we still have work to do. I look forward to the year ahead, working with our legislative leaders to continue delivering the agenda the working people of this state deserve,” Michigan AFL-CIO President Ron Bieber said.
As these new laws take effect, Michigan Democrats underscore their commitment to the well-being of hardworking Michiganders and the preservation of workers’ rights. The focus remains on striking a balance between the interests of workers and businesses. Whether through the repeal of anti-worker laws, advocacy for job security or the emphasis on collective bargaining, Democrats strive to fortify the foundation of the state — its workers. The importance of empowering local communities and fostering an environment where workers are not merely valued but truly esteemed is at the heart of these legislative endeavors. For detailed information on these transformative policies, please go to HouseDems.com/countdown.