Michigan’s Democratic-controlled House of Representatives recently passed a bill repealing the state’s “right-to-work” law, a law in place previously making it more difficult to create and maintain a union and to collectively bargain. According to the New York Times, the move may mark a sign that Democrats are seeking to aid labor unions, including those unions representing railroad workers. A renewed focus on unions could mean better pay and working conditions for our nation’s workers.

Right-to-Work Laws

It’s helpful to understand right-to-work laws a bit to better grasp the importance of the recent actions in Michigan. Right-to-work laws essentially mandate that nonunionized workers cannot be required to pay the equivalent of union dues, even if the union is negotiating pay and benefits on the workers’ behalf. According to researchers, these laws have the effect of reducing:

  • The ability of unions to recruit new workers and to retain membership, and
  • The number of working-class candidates who run for office.

As right-to-work laws tend to shrink unions, many people oppose the laws. Opponents complain that the laws lead to:

  • Diminished pay, working conditions, and benefits for workers,
  • Lower voter turnout, in part due to lack of collective action, and
  • Less political focus on economic issues of workers.

Michigan Bill

As stated above, the Michigan House of Representatives recently passed a bill that would repeal the state’s right-to-work law. For the new bill to become law, the State Senate (which Democrats control) would need to pas it and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer would have to sign it. If the bill becomes law, it would be one of only a few of repeals of any statewide right-to-work laws.

Note that 27 states currently have right-to-work laws. These laws have typically been put in place when Republicans have controlled state legislatures, and once in place can be challenging to repeal.

The actions in Michigan mark a deviation from the norm. Many commentators interpret the new bill as a sign that the Democratic Party is about to place greater emphasis on organized labor and ensuring that unions and their members can advocate for worker rights as they should be able to. This emphasis could mean increased wages and improved working conditions for union members and other workers.

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If you sustained a railroad injury, please contact our law firm for help. Rossi Vucinovich PC has been helping railroad employees and people injured in railroad accidents recover from railroad injuries for over 50 years. We are dedicated to helping you obtain the benefits you need to treat your injuries, pay your bills, and continue supporting your families. Do yourself a favor and contact us today to get the legal help you deserve.