LANSING — State Representative John Chirkun (D-Roseville) has introduced legislation that would repeal Michigan’s right-to-work laws. House Bills 4819 and 4820 would return Michigan to a “free bargaining” state, where unions are better positioned to negotiate for pay, benefits and working conditions on behalf of their members.
“The term ‘right-to-work’ is misleading because these laws don’t confer any extra rights, they just weaken unions and hurt workers,” Chirkun said. “Wages, benefits and workplace safety are lower practically across the board in right-to-work states. It’s just bad policy.”
The data shows that in addition to depressing wages, Michigan continues to lag behind when it comes to unemployment. According to the most recent data available from the Department of Technology, Management and Budget, Michigan’s unemployment rate continues to be higher than the national average of 5.3 percent. This makes Michigan tied for 28th in the nation, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
“Right-to-work is not the panacea of job growth that Republicans claim it to be,” Chirkun said.
In the lame duck session of 2012, Republicans rushed right-to-work bills through the Legislature. The bills were amended on the floor and received no committee hearings, and the doors of the chambers were locked while thousands of protestors gathered in opposition on the Capitol lawn.
“The manner in which these bills were passed was completely undemocratic. If right-to-work is good policy, why did it have to be rammed through the process?” Chirkun said. “Our state succeeds when its workers succeed, and workers deserve the right to bargain collectively on a level playing field. Right-to-work is wrong for Michigan.”