Michigan Senate Votes to Repeal 2012 Right-to-Work Law

On Tuesday, the Michigan Senate approved legislation to repeal the state’s “right-to-work” law, which has been in place since 2012. 

The “right-to-work” law prohibits union-security agreements, which required private and/or public employees to pay union dues or services fees as a condition of obtaining or continuing employment.  Employees in unionized jobs who opted out of the union are still afforded rights and benefits as members of the bargaining unit.

The bill will now return to the House for a vote before it goes to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer for her signature. By all accounts, Governor Whitmer has indicated she will sign the bill into law. Once passed, the legislation will go into effect 90 days after the Legislature adjourns this year.

As a result, private sector labor unions will be able to require all workers they represent to pay membership dues or an equivalent amount of fees. 

Unionized and non-unionized employers should take note of this decision. Under the new law, for workers who do not want to join a union but who work at a union shop that requires fee payment as a condition of employment, those workers will be required to pay the fees or leave their job. 

Unionized employers should also be prepared to recruit new employees to fill those vacancies. Additionally, all employers, including non-unionized employers, should anticipate greater unionization and bargaining efforts by their workforce, as well as unions, which will have expanded operating budgets due to the legislation.  

Before the law goes into effect, employers should consult legal counsel to understand their rights and responsibilities under the new pro-union framework. 

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