(02/04/13) - Despite the cries from unions across the state, the
legislature approved, and Gov. Rick Snyder signed laws making Michigan
the twenty-fourth Right to Work State.
The law takes effect next month.
One year ago, Indiana's governor, Republican Mitch Daniels, also signed Right to Work legislation.
Opponents claimed it would break down the middle class, while those for it said it would create a pro-business environment.
So, what impact has Right to Work had on the Hoosier state? We traveled there to find out.
Indiana is known as the Crossroads of America. Manufacturing has a major presence here, and so do unions.
But when the economy started to slow, and unemployment was on the rise, lawmakers needed an economic fix. One solution - Right to Work legislation.
"It's been absolutely a positive for Indiana and I expect the results to be the same for Michigan," said Cam Carter, of the Indiana Chamber of Commerce.
Last year, Indiana was the twenty-third state to pass the law, which makes joining a union optional for workers.
It's the second time it's been passed here - it was in place in the late 1950s and repealed in the '60s.
In the year it's been back, Carter says the legislation has already made a difference.
"I think it's working because people want to be free. They want to earn more money. They want to have more opportunity for themselves, and that's what I think Right To Work is all about," he said.
Let's take a look at the numbers from the Indiana Economic Development Corporation, or IEDC, which rallies businesses to the state.
Right now, there are 91 companies that have expressed interest in Indiana since it became a Right to Work State.
Of that, 64 have entered into negotiations with the state. So far, 39 companies have signed on the dotted line.
Those companies are expected to bring 4,500 jobs, and $1.6 billion in investment.
The Chamber says there are no worries about these being good paying jobs.
It's expected the companies who have signed on will pay workers an average of $22.16 an hour - almost $3 higher than the state average.
"More companies, more investors are taking a look at Indiana and they are looking to hire more people," Carter said.
The President of the AFL-CIO claims the work being touted by the IEDC was in the works long before Right to Work legislation was signed.
"Does it bring more business? I think the answer is resoundingly no," said Nancy Guyott, President of AFL-CIO. "Their list is exactly what the list would have been absent the passage of Right to Work."
Even though union membership is still strong after the law was signed, Guyott says the fight continues to get it off the books.
"We have seen employers be more aggressive at the table, trying to negating more concessions, more give backs," she said.
It's only been a year, and everyone agrees it's still to early to measure any major shift in Indiana's economy.
But what's in store for Michigan as we prepare for Right to Work? It really depends on who you ask.
"Given the Indiana experience, Michiganders don't have much to fear from this. We see only a positive up," Carter said.
"The promises won't come to fruition, but the pain probably will," Guyott said.
We contacted the list of companies that the IEDC says expanded in Indiana because of Right to Work legislation.
We were turned down or our calls were not returned by most of them, except for one - a Michigan-based company with a plant in Indiana.
How much of a role did Right to Work play in expanding in Indiana? That story Tuesday night on ABC12 news at 6.
ABC12 Main Station