Detroit Regional Chamber > Advocacy > What the Right to Work Repeal Means for Businesses

What the Right to Work Repeal Means for Businesses

March 17, 2023

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer will soon sign bills to repeal Michigan’s Right to Work law that prohibits requiring workers to pay union dues as a condition of employment. The House voted 56-53, and the Senate voted 20-17 – both along party lines – in support of the repeal.  

This has been a leading priority for the new Democratic majority in Michigan’s Legislature, and its passage seemed imminent, despite advocacy from the Detroit Regional Chamber and peer business groups.  

The Chamber Perspective 

“The repeal of Right to Work weakens Michigan’s global economic competitive position and harms our ability to vie for new businesses and jobs,” said Sandy K. Baruah, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Chamber. “In reality, the Right to Work law has little impact on both unions and businesses – businesses that are union shops continue to partner with unions and only a small percentage of union workers opt out of paying dues. As states compete for jobs in the global market, those with Right to Work laws have a distinct advantage. Michigan now loses this key economic development tool to the detriment of our employment base and local economies. 

What This Means for Business in Michigan 

The Chamber is among many business groups and leaders who have expressed concern about repealing Right to Work. In the decade that Right to Work has been in place in Michigan, it has progressed in growing new companies, expanding current companies, and attracting companies from around the world. Right to Work was among the considerations that kept Michigan high on the list for site selectors.  

While it won’t change much for current Michigan-based businesses, it essentially excludes Michigan from consideration by global businesses looking to expand or relocate. Without this law in place, the state will need to pursue more costly methods to attract economic development opportunities – more upfront cash, deeper utility company discounts, longer tax abatements, etc.  

The inconsistency in policy from administration to administration is a further detriment to Michigan’s pro-growth environment. The repeal breaks down businesses’ expectations of consistency and what it’s like to do business in Michigan. The lack of continuity in such business policies continues to be a challenge for Michigan and will play a role in businesses’ decisions to stay in or come to the state.  

What’s Next 

The bills will take effect 90 days after the end of session, but there are considerations underway for a ballot drive in 2024 to lock Right to Work into the state’s constitution. The Chamber and MICHauto will continue advocating for a business-friendly climate that ensures Michigan’s economic prosperity for years to come.