State News

Michigan union ranks shrink in the right-to-work era that began 8 years ago

November 03, 2020, 7:00 AM

Walter Reuther would be dismayed. The Mackinac Center for Public Policy isn't, so it tracks "a steep decline" in membership of 16 Michigan unions under a right-to-work law adopted eight years ago next month.

The legislation, signed by Gov. Rick Snyder, makes it illegal to require workers to pay money to a union as a condition of keeping a job.

SEIU Healthcare members at a Spirit of Detroit rally in September. (Photo: Facebook/SEIU)

Capitol Confidential, a news site of the Midland free-market center, reports on the impact:

Unions representing public sector employees -- teachers, bus drivers, state employees, corrections officers, etc. -- have seen the largest declines. They range from a 24% decline among corrections officers up to a 39% loss for the state’s AFSCME unions.

The Michigan Education Association, long the largest government employee union in the state, has lost 33% of its members. ... The number of unionized state employees has dropped by nearly 30%.

The UAW, which Reuther led from 1946-70, has maintained its membership at about 400,000 and has seen annual revenue rise 27 percent since 2012 to more than $330 million in the latest budget year. 

But in other industries, union ranks have shrunk, Jarrett Skorup writes in the policy center's post:

Even with a strong economy and hiring in recent years, nearly every union which represent primarily private sector employees has lost significant numbers of dues-paying members. This includes carpenters, operators, hospital workers, child care providers and home caregivers.

(Graphic: Mackinac Center for Public Policy)

Read more:  Capitol Confidential

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