FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Tuesday, March 14, 2023
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New Analysis Shows Restoring Workers’ Rights Package is Smart Economic Policy
LANSING, Mich. – New analysis from the Economic Policy Institute, a non-partisan think tank, shows the devastating effect Michigan’s 2012 “right to work” law has had on unionization, wages, and the middle class.
“An overwhelming body of research shows that states with anti-union laws restricting workers’ collective bargaining rights end up with lower wages, worse benefits, and higher workplace fatality rates,” said Jennifer SHERER, Senior State Policy Coordinator at the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), who testified in support of the Restoring Workers’ Rights package before the Senate Labor Committee this morning. “Michigan legislators are right to prioritize restoring workers’ rights as an essential first step toward addressing the decades of wage stagnation and growing income inequality plaguing our economy. Other states should follow Michigan’s lead.”
For decades, Michigan boasted the highest unionization rate in the country—and relatively higher median wages resulted for the state’s workers. New EPI research finds that as recently as 2005, Michigan’s unionization rate was 1.69 times the national rate, and the state’s median wage was 6% higher than the national median. But after lawmakers passed “right to work” in 2012 under pressure from corporate special interests, Michigan’s unionization rates declined faster than in the nation as a whole, and the state’s relative median wage fell with it. Today, Michigan’s median wage has fallen below the U.S. median. Attacks on Michigan workers’ rights have especially benefited the rich—declines in unionization rates have been accompanied by dramatic increases in income inequality, with half of all income in the state now going to the top 10%.
“This new research, which the Senate labor committee heard today, confirms what workers across Michigan have been seeing for the past decade in their workplaces and communities,” said Michigan AFL-CIO President Ron BIEBER. “Decades of attacks on workers’ rights have dragged down wages, weakened benefits, and exacerbated the share of wealth going to corporate elites like Betsy DeVos. The new pro-worker majorities in the legislature are taking a historic step to undo this damage and restore worker freedom in Michigan.”
The Michigan AFL-CIO, Michigan’s largest labor organization, is a federation representing forty different labor organizations, eighteen different central labor councils, and eight constituency groups representing over 1 million union members and their families.
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