UP union members react to ‘Right to Work’ law repeal, calls it a ‘win’

This law allowed workers to opt out of paying union dues and fees, but still receive representation.
Published: Mar. 27, 2023 at 5:02 PM EDT
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UPPER MICHIGAN, Mich. (WLUC) - Some labor union members say the repeal of the “Right to Work” law in Michigan will benefit both union and non-union members.

Michigan became the first state in 58 years to repeal a “Right to Work Law,” which allowed workers to opt out of paying union dues and fees, but still receive representation.

“I would have to represent people that might not have been paying union dues,” said Adam Saari, BAC Local 2 Michigan U.P. Chapter business agent. “In my opinion, that is no different than someone getting into an accident, and they didn’t pay their insurance, there is no way that an insurance company would turn around and cover you. There is a cost in representing somebody.”

Saari said his union represents building and masonry workers. The annual cost for the union is $90.

“The people that are doing it right for $90 a year, any type of representation they need we are giving it to them,” Saari said.

Saari adds union membership is around 3,500 and increasing. He said many members, including himself, are excited for the next steps.

“The state of Michigan is going to start bringing in a lot better talent when we have the amount of money that is coming into the workplace,” Saari said.

Michigan Republicans who opposed the repeal said Michigan will become less attractive to businesses and will lead to forced union membership.

Saari said it is still the workers choice to join a union. He expects wages to increase for union and non-union workers.

“When non-union workers are competing with wages for the union, they have to pay a competitive wage if they want to get the right talent,” Saari said. “You are going to have these represented workers in the state of Michigan making more. If people choose to become non-union, that is fine. That is your call.”

26 other states in the U.S. currently still have “right to work” laws.