Nowhere is this growth needed more than in the Great Lake State, home to the Detroit Three auto companies. While auto manufacturers such as Toyota have thrived in southern right-to-work states, Chrysler, GM and Ford have famously struggled in the forced-unionism states of the Midwest. UAW demands have harmed these companies, helping drive two into bankruptcy and government bailouts while eviscerating union jobs. Since 2001, union membership in Michigan is down by one-third, or about 300,000 members, many of them bled from the auto industry.
Michigan was the only state to lose population in the first decade of the new millennium. Unemployment was 9.1% in October of this year (the latest figures available). Union membership is worth little if there are no jobs to fill.
Right to work can help reverse our loss of young people. Between 2000 and 2011, right-to-work states experienced an increase of 11.3% in the number of residents between the ages of 25 and 34, according to the Census Bureau. Other states barely increased by 0.6% in the same period.
Michigan’s turn to worker freedom shows the waning influence of Big Labor. Until this year, the last state to enact right to work was Oklahoma in 2001. Yet in 2012, two states in the union-dominated Midwest gave their workers the choice of whether they would or would not pay dues or agency fees to a union. Other states will most likely follow. And with each state that changes, the next will become easier.