Is Michigan’s Right-to-Work Bad for Automakers?

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General MotorsAlthough it may seem ironic that the heavily-unionized state known as the home of the American auto industry is prepared to pass a right-to-work bill, the trend is apparent. In Michigan, like in many other industrial states, the power of organized labor is diminishing; since the early 1960s, union involvement has shrunk from 40 percent of the state’s workforce to 17 percent in 2011, and 23 other U.S. states have passed similar measures.

Despite appeals from President Obama and protests by United Auto Workers union members, Republican Governor Snyder is expected to sign the legislation on Tuesday, which would prohibit compulsory union dues for public and private employees.

In its most basic terms, Michigan’s right-to-work bill means that unions will have less money, and therefore have less bargaining power. Those who campaigned against the legislation have argued that as compulsory dues become optional, more union workers will become free-riders, meaning that unions will be soon starved of the funds that allow them to wield a bargaining influence. As a result, workers will see their labor rights diminish.

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