The historic union stronghold of Michigan shocked the political world in 2012 when state legislators passed a Right to Work law — which mandates that no worker can be forced to pay a union to get or keep a job.
Now that decision is paying off.
Not only are Michigan workers now living in freedom, foreign car companies are bringing jobs back to the long-declining state.
As part of a deal announced in 2015, Fiat Chrysler is investing $1 billion in U.S.-based Jeep factories, including one in Warren, Michigan.
It is part of a $5.3 billion deal reached with the United Auto Workers during 2015 contract renegotiations, the first under Michigan’s Right to Work law.
Under that law, while new employees had the option of choosing to not join a union, existing union members were still bound to their contracts. They would be free, however, to opt out of the renegotiated deal if they felt it was not good enough.
“With one week to go before the expiration of labor contracts between U.S. automakers and the UAW, union leaders are trying to negotiate the best deal possible for their members, knowing, however, that some of them will likely use the occasion to quit the union,” USA Today wrote Sept. 7, 2015.
Being forced to perform in order to convince workers to join prompted the UAW to reassess its strategy and work out a deal to bring back jobs.
Right to Work’s effect on Michigan has been enormous.
“Since right-to-work work took effect in March 2013, 142,000 more people are employed in Michigan and private-sector weekly earnings have increased 5.4 percent, outpacing the national average of 3.7 percent,” labor policy analysts Brett Healy and F. Vincent Vernuccio write in the Feb. 27, 2015 Washington Times.
“Among its neighboring states in the Midwest, only Indiana—itself a recent right-to-work state—outpaced Michigan in job growth over the period,” they note.
Indiana also passed Right to Work in 2012.
Based on the results in those two states, fellow Midwestern union state Wisconsin defied union bosses and passed Right to Work in 2015.
The results in all three states? Years of declining job numbers reversed and an economy that now outperforms neighboring forced-dues states.
And it appears more jobs will be coming back to the U.S.
The union powerhouse of West Virginia passed Right to Work in 2016. Kentucky passed Right to Work just days ago, and the states of Missouri and New Hampshire may soon join them in the coming weeks or months.