INGRID JACQUES

Jacques: How to stop union ‘freeloading’

Ingrid Jacques
The Detroit News

Ever since Michigan became a right-to-work state at the end of 2012, unions and their supporters have complained about the freeloader issue.

In addition to not liking members being able to opt out of the union and still keep their jobs, labor advocates don’t appreciate that even if a public employee stops paying dues, he or she still benefits from the collective bargaining agreement.

That’s a fair criticism.

But that’s not something the Legislature stipulated in the right-to-work law; rather, it’s a longstanding provision in state labor law giving unions exclusive representation in a workplace they organize. That means even if a former union worker wants to represent himself, he can’t under current law.

The Mackinac Center for Public Policy will soon release a study highlighting how Michigan and other right-to-work states could solve this problem

Lawmakers should follow-up right to work with legislation that would create a more fair environment, allowing employees who leave the union to negotiate their own contracts and excusing the union from having to work on their behalf.

“Michigan would be a leader,” says F. Vincent Vernuccio, director of labor policy at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, who will offer solutions in a soon-to-be released report.