Michigan unions lose membership in first full year of 'Right to Work'

Jan 26, 2015

Michigan saw the third highest drop in union membership in the nation last year, according the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

It says membership dropped from 16.3 percent to 14.5 percent in 2014 – the first full year Michigan’s right-to-work law was in effect. The law made it illegal to require workers to pay union dues as a condition of employment.

“If this kind of trend continues, I think what we can expect to see is a drop in workplace safety standards, a drop in benefits, and diminishing wages across the state,” said Sam Inglot with the pro-union group Progress Michigan.

Groups that support right to work say the drop in union membership is good news.

“It’s a positive sign that workers are more engaged in their workplace decisions and are feeling more empowered,” said Greg McNeilly, president of the Michigan Freedom Fund.

“We hope that unions take the right message from this and focus on providing good services to their members, so that their members get value should they choose to participate.”           

Many unions are still operating under contracts that were agreed to before the right-to-work law took effect. As those contracts expire, more members will have the option to stop paying union dues.