This important legislation is about workplace fairness and equality. As Republicans, we believe workers should have greater control over how they live their lives and over the decisions that impact their own family’s bottom line.
Michigan’s workforce — the most talented, skilled and dedicated workers in the world — now has freedom to make union membership a personal choice, rather than a mandatory term of employment.
I want to emphasize that this legislation in no way impedes the right to collective bargaining. Collective bargaining is a federally protected right that all workers in this nation maintain.
The timing of this legislation couldn’t be more critical. Given our economic situation, immediate and decisive action was required. Michigan has lost nearly 1 million jobs in the past 10 years, including talented young people graduating from our colleges and universities looking for career opportunities. A number of Michigan cities, including Detroit, are on the verge of bankruptcy.
We need change — and jobs — now.
Site selection experts from across the country say that up to half of all companies that hire them to find a good location won’t even consider states that do not provide workers the “freedom to work.”
Freedom to Work will help Michigan attract the new jobs we need to compete in the 21st century. Thanks to the leadership of House and Senate Republicans, this legislation will help our communities recover faster economically, and will put Michigan on the right track to move forward in a way that provides opportunity not only to today’s workers, but workers for generations to come.
I believe providing Michiganders with more employment opportunities and greater freedom and choice over their lives is pro-worker. But anyone who has watched the news over the past week is doubtless familiar with the images of angry, sometimes violent, union protests on our state Capitol lawn. There is no doubt that a by-product of empowering workers is the fact that unions will have to change and adapt to maintain relevance. They don’t like this.
Unions in Michigan will now have to provide members, or prospective members, with a value proposition. Labor leaders must compete for membership.
In a free market, competition is good for the consumer. In this case, competition for dues will lead to improved service, greater accountability and stronger representation — and that’s good for both workers and unions.
The symbolic importance of Michigan’s adoption of Freedom to Work legislation is not lost on us. Michigan is the birthplace of the UAW, long considered the most powerful union in the nation and an iconic representation of unions to most Americans. Unions have played an important role in the development of the auto industry, helping Michigan to “put the world on wheels.”
But the world has changed considerably in the past 100 years. To prosper in today’s global economy, as states we must create for ourselves the greatest economic opportunity for our workers. Freedom to Work will firmly place Michigan on the path to economic recovery and job creation.
— State Sen. Arlan Meekhof, R-West Olive, is the Senate majority floor leader and represents Ottawa County.