There has been recent public discussion about reviving Michigan’s economy by having the state adopt “right-to-work” provisions — laws that prevent joining or paying fees to a union from becoming a requirement of lawful employment.* In July 2007, Michigan Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop indicated that he would support a right-to-work ballot initiative to amend the Michigan Constitution.[1] Right-to-work bills have been submitted in both the Michigan House and Senate. In April 2007, Peter Karmanos Jr., the CEO of Detroit’s Compuware Corp., publicly suggested that Michigan should consider becoming a right-to-work state, saying, “The state unions are very powerful, the (teachers union) is very powerful and they are, as far as I’m concerned, fiscally irresponsible.”[2]

There are currently 22 states with right-to-work laws,** and many of these laws have been subject to union legal challenges. The subsequent legal record indicates that some right-to-work provisions are more likely to survive these challenges than others are. This policy brief therefore discusses several foundational legal concepts and sets forth model language for a legally sound right-to-work amendment to the Michigan Constitution.


* For a discussion of the economics of right-to-work laws, see William Wilson, “The Effect of Right-to-Work Laws on Economic Development” (Mackinac Center for Public Policy, 2002), and Paul Kersey, “The Economic Effects of Right-to-Work Laws: 2007” (Mackinac Center for Public Policy, 2007).

House Bill 4454 and Senate Bill 607, which are identical substantively.

** The 22 states are (1) Alabama – Ala. Code §§ 25-7-30 to 36; (2) Arizona – Ariz. Const. art. XXV; Ariz. Rev. Stat. §§ 23-1301 to 1307; (3) Arkansas – Ark. Const. amend. 34 §§ 1-2; Ark. Code Ann. §§ 11-301 to 304; (4) Florida – Fla. Const. art. I, § 6; Fla. Stat. § 447.17; (5) Georgia – Ga. Code Ann. §§ 34-6-20 to 28; (6) Idaho – Idaho Code Ann. §§ 44-2001 to 2009; (7) Iowa – Iowa Code §§731.1-8; (8) Kansas – Kan. Const. art. 15, § 12; Kan Stat. Ann. § 44-831; (9) Louisiana – La. Rev. Stat. Ann. §§ 23:981-87; (10) Mississippi – Miss. Const. art. 7 § 198-A; Miss. Code. Ann. § 71-1-47; (11) Nebraska – Neb. Const. art. XV, §§ 13-15; Neb. Rev. Stat. §§ 48-217 to 219; (12) Nevada – Nev. Rev. Stat. §§ 613.230, 613.250 to 300; (13) North Carolina – N.C. Gen. Stat. §§ 95-78 to 84; (14) North Dakota – N.D. Cent. Code §§ 34.01.14 to 14.1; (15) Oklahoma – Okla. Const. art. XXIII, § 1A; (16) South Carolina – S.C. Code. Ann. §§ 41-7-10 to 90; (17) South Dakota – S.D. Const. art. VI, § 2; S.D. Codified Laws § 60-8-3 to 8; (18) Tennessee – Tenn. Code Ann. §§ 50-1-201 to 204; (19) Texas – Tex. Lab. Code Ann. §§ 101.003 to 004, 101.051 to 053, 101.101 to 102, 101.111, 101.121 to 124; (20) Utah – Utah Code Ann. §§ 34-34-1 to 17; (21) Virginia – Va. Code Ann. §§ 40.1-58 to 69; and (22) Wyoming – Wyo. Stat. Ann. §§ 22-7-108 to 115.