LANSING, Mich. — Michigan’s Democratic-led House approved legislation Wednesday that would repeal the state’s “right-to-work” law that was passed more than a decade ago when Republicans controlled the Statehouse.
Repealing the law, which prohibits public and private unions from requiring that nonunion employees pay union dues even if the union bargains on their behalf, has been a top priority for Democrats since they took full control of the state government this year.
“This bill is not about making history. It is about restoring the rights of workers from whose work we’ve all benefited,” Rep. Jim Haadsma, a Battle Creek Democrat, said on the House floor prior to the vote.
Supporters of the repeal, who poured into the gallery above the House chambers, cheered loudly as the legislation passed along party lines late Wednesday. Legislation restoring the state’s prevailing wage law, which requires contractors hired for state projects to pay union-level wages, was also approved by the House.
Both bills will need to pass the state Senate before being sent to Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer for final approval.
A $1 million appropriation was attached to both bills prior to the House vote that Republican House Leader Matt Hall said would make them “referendum-proof.” Michigan law says the “power of referendums” does not extend to bills with appropriations attached.
(Right to work laws have been criticized as "right to work for less" laws, as the wages in states where such laws went into effect generally dropped soon after the law went into effect. The laws are designed specifically to weaken the bargaining power of unions, and without union power workers get exploited.)