Being a Right-to-Work state means that Michigan employees would now have the option of joining a union and paying fees, rather than being forced to.The law also penalizes employers for making contributions to a nonprofit or “third party” any fees that are considered charges required of union members. "Right-to-work is not anti-union. It is pro-choice on the issue of union membership," said Lawrence Reed of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy in 2001. 22 other states in the U.S. are currently Right-to-Work states, and are mostly in the Southern and Western areas of the country. Michigan's unemployment rate, 13.1% as of June, is roughly 50% higher than these 22 states.
The number of unions in the U.S. has gone from 40% in the 1950s to 16% today. If it is a matter of joining a union to ensure a job, employees have the option of working for a private business that is not part of a union as the labor force has changed over the years. Economist James T. Bennett of George Mason University found in the mid-1990s that families in the first 21 right-to-work states were actually earning $2,852 more in real income per year than their counterparts in states without right-to-work laws.
The Right-to-work bill is generally opposed by Democrats. Those who oppose it say that it would have little affect on improving the unemployment rate. "The truth is, Right to Work doesn’t guarantee employment, but it does ensure lower wage standards, fewer benefits and poorer working conditions for all workers," said one opposer Mike Jackson of the Michigan Regional Council of Carpenters. The job market in Michigan is different to that of the 22 states with the bill in affect. Michigan supplies more manufacturing and has relied heavily on auto producing in the past, which have taken a bigger loss than other career fields.
Though it has been presented many times in the past, the Right-to-work proposal is most prevalent with today's economic struggles than before. This issue has been and will continue to be heavily debated.