Having passed the legislation, Michigan will become the 24th state to have right to work laws in effect. Is that a good thing or a bad thing? Let’s look at it as objectively as we can.
A quick outline: Taft-Hartley law says an employee does not have to join a union to get a job in a union shop (A ‘closed shop’ is illegal.) It says they must pay dues, however, because they receive the benefits of the union activities. Also, the law says they can withhold the portion of dues that goes to political contributions, if they know how much that is. I'm not sure either tactic is very smart -- because of pressure from the union and the guys you work with.
Now, along comes right to work. Those laws say joining the union in a union shop is completely voluntary and employees don't have to pay dues of any kind if they don't want to. They obviously still get the benefits of the union activities. It doesn't sound a lot different, but without right to work, dues of some sort must be paid. These may be called “fair share fees.” People who work without joining the union or paying are called “free riders.”
As to the merits of right to work, there are arguments on both sides. Union bosses know that many employees will opt out of dues if they can. Unions will shrink in size and power. They’ll be in danger of becoming irrelevant. They don’t think it’s fair that “free riders” can get without paying the benefits the union worked for without paying.
Employers know that unions will be weakened by such laws. They will be less likely to be restrained by onerous negotiations with unions and can determine how much they want to pay in wages and benefits. It’s no coincidence that Boeing decided to build their new Dreamliner plant in South Carolina, a right to work state, and no coincidence that Obama’s National Labor Relations Board tried to stop it from being located there.
Union advocates argue against it, but (Republican governed) states are passing right to work laws they believe will bring businesses to their states, boost their economies, and reduce unemployment. Unions argue that such advantages aren’t really there, that workers in right to work shops make less money.
No state governed by Democrats has ever passed a right to work law, and no such state ever will. The unions spend large amounts of money to elect Democrats, who in turn work for laws that give unions advantages over employers.
Thus, when you look at the basics, right to work is a struggle for power between the left and the right. You may be able to figure out which side I’m on.