Billboard encourages Michiganders to move over right-to-work repeal

Updated: Mar. 24, 2023 at 10:30 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - Michigan became the first state in decades to repeal its “right-to-work” law, as Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed the repeal Friday, marking a significant victory for organized labor.

Read: Michigan 1st state in decades to repeal ‘right-to-work’ law

However, a Florida-based conservative think-tank, The James Madison Institute, has purchased two billboards in Lansing to entice people to move to Florida. The billboards read: “The Free State of Florida protects your right to work. If you seek a pleasant peninsula, move to Florida.”

Bob McClure, the CEO of The James Madison Institute, said the billboards were meant to attract Michigan businesses that may relocate to Florida after the “right-to-work” law was abolished.

“That’s what you’re going to see in the next one, three, five years. More people moving out of the state of Michigan,” McClure said. “When you abolish right-to-work, businesses move. And they move out and they relocate and they’re relocating to Florida.”

Michigan’s “right-to-work” law allowed people in unionized workplaces to opt out of paying union dues and fees. This has led to concerns about Michigan’s competitiveness in attracting new businesses. David Worthams, from the Michigan Manufacturers Association, said that the state now faces a long-range challenge to bring in different technologies to build electric vehicles, batteries, chips, and other related items.

“We’re definitely looking at a long-range challenge to bring in all the different technologies to build an electronic vehicle, build the batteries, build the chips and the things of that nature,” Worthams said.

James Walker, from the Michigan Nurses Association, said that the billboards are amusing, and there is no need to leave Michigan to work, as not all workplaces in Michigan are unionized.

“I find it amusing they’re suggesting people are going to move to Florida. I don’t know why you would want to leave Michigan,” Walker said. “It doesn’t mean you have to leave the state to work. Not every workplace in the state of Michigan is unionized. Not everyone works under a collective bargaining agreement.”

Michigan had the seventh-highest percentage of unionized workers in the nation when the “right-to-work” law was enacted in 2012. However, that dropped to 11th in 2022.

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