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Right-to-work drive gains steam in Michigan

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

DETROIT — In this historic stronghold of the American labor movement, the phrase “right to work” is seen by many as fighting words.

But with a new GOP-controlled state Legislature and a Republican governor in place in Lansing, a move is afoot to make Michigan the 23rd state in the nation to adopt legislation that would prohibit unions and employers from regulating collection of union dues or requiring employees to join a union if their workplace is organized.


“We’ve got growing and substantial support in the Legislature for pursuing Michigan becoming a right-to-work state, but this is a marathon, not a sprint, and it’s all about making sure we are removing all obstacles to jobs,” said state Rep. Mike Shirkey, Clarklake Republican.

“Everyone acknowledges that overcoming the 75-plus-year history of legacy unions here is not something you do overnight. But some of the polls statewide indicate the public is moving toward a direction of supporting workers having the choice,” he said. “I’m not anti-union. I call it labor freedom, where unions are as free to make their case as workers are to make their choice.”


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