(LANSING, MI) – Senator Patrick Colbeck (R-Canton) joined a majority of legislators in the Michigan House and Senate today in voting to give public and private sector workers in Michigan a choice that has been denied them since 1935 – the opportunity to choose whether or not to pay dues to financially support a union. Colbeck voted yes on legislation that will make Michigan a right-to-work state.
Today, 17% of Michigan's workforce belongs to a union. The day after the Governor signs the legislation, we will still have 17% of the workforce in a union – if workers believe that the union is representing their best interests. The legislation does not end collective bargaining. All it does is make it illegal to include clauses in collective bargaining agreements that force an employee to be a member of a union or pay union dues as a condition of employment.
"In the 2010 census, Michigan was the only state in the nation to lose population. Perhaps most alarming is that we have lost 11.7% of our citizens between the ages of 25 and 34 over the last decade. As a result, our families are being split up. Phone calls and text messaging are substituting for family gatherings," said Colbeck.
The data shows a compelling argument for giving workers a choice. By an almost 3 to 1 margin, people are moving to states where workers are not forced to join a union or pay union fees. According to the most recent available annual U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis data, between 2001 and 2011, total private-sector employment in so-called "Right-to-Work" (RTW) states as a group increased by 12.5%, compared to an increase of just 3.5% for forced-unionization states as a group and a decline of 5.9% for Michigan alone.
The statistic that the average income in forced unionization states is higher is only a partial truth. The salaries in California and New York can be quite high, but so is the cost of living. Sixty-eight percent of RTW states have higher "disposable income" (i.e. income after taxes and cost of living adjustments) than forced unionization states (SOURCE: Bureau of Labor Statistics). The trend lines favor RTW states as well. Private-sector employee compensation in RTW states grew by 12.5 percent between 2001-2011, compared with just 3.1 percent over the same period in forced-unionization states (Bureau of Economic Analysis and Bureau of Labor Statistics data).
Adjusted for inflation, personal income growth in RTW states was 2.6 times higher (165.3%) than forced-unionization states which only grew by 93.5%. Once again Michigan trailed far behind at 33.5%.
Detroit may still retain its title as the Motor City, but did you know that the last 9 out of 10 new automotive manufacturing plants have been built in so-called "Right-to-Work" states? Clearly, our title was in jeopardy if we were to continue with the status quo.
"My commitment when I ran for office in 2010 was to make Michigan the #1 job growth state in the nation. During the 2011-12 legislative session, I joined with other legislators and our Governor to work diligently to remove obstacles to job creation and encourage economic development in our state. By giving workers a choice, our state has now taken a significant leap forward towards achieving this commitment. This is a great day for Michigan families and a great day for the moving industry as displaced Michiganders will soon start to return home to their loved ones," concluded Colbeck.