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Right to Work, Prevailing Wage Repeal Bills Signed By Governor

Advocacy News – March 24, 2023

Governor Whitmer signed controversial legislation to repeal the state’s Right to Work law and reinstate its prevailing wage law Friday. It took only 10 days for the bills to pass both the Michigan House and Senate and to be signed by the Governor.

The bills (SB 34HB 4004 and HB 4007, now Public Acts 8, 9 and 10 of 2023), which were approved on a strict party line vote every step of the way, would return Michigan to the days of allowing collective bargaining agreements to require union membership (and union dues) as a condition of employment and requiring mandatory union-level wages on all state construction projects, regardless of whether a union contractor is being used to perform the work.

Here are some key updates on the bills:

Referendum Proof –

The bills include appropriations to make the legislation referendum-proof, a maneuver that Gov. Whitmer promised to veto when she took office in 2019 and signed an Executive Directive 2019-07 on. Whitmer has vetoed legislation in the past based on the inclusion of the referendum-proof maneuver but has said she will sign the bills with the appropriations included.

Effective Date –

It is important to note that the bills did not get immediate effect, so they will take effect in accordance with the constitutional provision that states no act shall take effect until the expiration of 90 days from the end of the session at which the bill was enacted. If the session ends in late December 2024 (per usual), the bills will take effect in March of 2024. However, it remains possible that the Legislature may move to final adjournment on/before July 1 to move up the effective date of several of the bills they’ve passed. If that’s the case, and the Legislature adjourns sine die on July 1 (for example), the law would go into effect Sept. 29. This effective date maneuver would hold true even in situations where the Legislature is convened for a special session called by the Governor as outlined in the Michigan Constitution.

Final Thoughts –

The MI Chamber lobbied hard against the passage of these four bills through testimony to the Senate Labor Committee, individual meetings with lawmakers, press statements and media interviews. While we are disappointed in the result and the economic harm it could bring to our state, we are thankful that over 600 Chamber members made their voices heard with Democrats and Republicans alike on this key issue. We remain hopeful that lawmakers saw and heard you and are mindful that there’s a delicate line between appeasing the labor unions’ demands and negatively impacting our state’s economic competitiveness and ability to attract and retain jobs.

 

Please contact Wendy Block with questions at wblock@michamber.com.