Michigan Senate votes to repeal right-to-work law

Michigan is one step closer to becoming the first state to repeal a right-to-work law in decades

The Senate voted to repeal Michigan’s right-to-work law, which is just a step toward the direction thousands of Michigan workers want.

It comes after the Michigan House already approved the same thing last week.

The AFL-CIO is Michigan’s largest labor organization. It represents more than one million workers across 40 different labor organizations. They are among those celebrating that vote Tuesday (March 14).

With Tuesday’s vote, Michigan is one step closer to becoming the first state to repeal a right-to-work law in decades.

“It was exciting and emotional at the same time because I was there 10 years ago,” said Jamie Brown. “I got a little teary-eyed after it passed.”

Brown, a critical care nurse, and the Michigan Nurses Association president were among many union workers rallying at the State Capitol.

She said when the union requirement went away, so did the nurses.

“I think it emboldened hospital corporations to ask workers to do more with less staff at the bedsides,” Brown said.

Brown says once signed into law, the repeal could even help improve patient care.

“Nurses have left the bedside because they aren’t happy with working conditions right now, and if we can get the law into place, we should see an increase in nurses coming back to the bedside,” Brown said.

Brown has already set her sights on their next steps.

“It’ll give us a bigger voice to get staffing ratios into law, hopefully, and put enough nurses at the bedside to take care of the number of patients coming into the hospitals,” Brown said.

Not everyone supported as the change voted on Tuesday would require workers to join labor unions.

“Many job providers will be less willing to locate or expand in Michigan if we eliminate our right-to-work status,” said Senator Thomas A. Albert. “They will simply cross us off the list of consideration.”

Albert continued:

“Beyond the economy, right-to-work is simply the right thing to do. It is frustrating to hear that this policy is labeled as anti-union because, at its heart, it is pro-worker. It is an issue of freedom and individual liberty.”

Michigan AFL-CIO President Ron Bieber said in a statement:

“Today’s victory belongs to the hundreds of thousands of Michigan workers, labor leaders, and organizers who have fought tirelessly against relentless attacks from Betsy Devos and corporate interests on working people and their freedom to negotiate for better wages, benefits, and safety standards.”

About the Authors:

Pamela Osborne is thrilled to be back home at the station she grew up watching! You can watch her on Local 4 News Sundays and weeknights. Pamela joined the WDIV News Team in February 2022, after working at stations in Ohio and Pennsylvania.

Brandon Carr is a digital content producer for ClickOnDetroit and has been with WDIV Local 4 since November 2021. Brandon is the 2015 Solomon Kinloch Humanitarian award recipient for Community Service.