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Who has really benefitted since Michigan became a Right to Work state, according to the West Michigan Policy Forum

October 4, 2021

On Friday, the West Michigan Policy Forum (WMPF) posted an article on their Facebook page, with a headline that read, Michigan’s Right-To-Work Law Improves Lives But ‘Screwing Up’ Media Narratives.

The article that WMPF featured is from the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, one of the premier far right think tanks in the Mid-West.

There are several things worth saying about this article. First, the brief article provides some data and numbers on Michigan for before the state adopted a Right to Work law and after the law was adopted. However, the Mackinac Center writer doesn’t provide any source to support the data or the broader claim that Michiganders are financially better off since the Right to Work law was adopted in late 2012. Even if we believe the numbers that the Mackinac Center author presented in the article, it only reflects the median household income levels and not what most working people are making. Median household income is based on an average of overall income. Therefore, if you have a small percentage of really rich people, then the median household average sounds good, but it is does not accurately reflect what most people are making. The wealth gap has increased significantly throughout the country and in Michigan, with the top 5% of the population having the largest income growth.

Second, on December 11, 2012, governor Rick Snyder signed into law a “right to work” bill, undermining collective bargaining by allowing workers to freeload off the benefits of union negotiations without paying the costs of union representation. The Mackinac Center played a prominent role in supporting this action, a fact that the Mackinac Center writer fails to mention. 

Third, the Mackinac Center for Public Policy began pushing for Michigan to become a Right to Work State in 1998, right about the same time that DeVos family foundations began providing significant contributions to the Mackinac Center, according to SourceWatch.

Fourth, the West Michigan Policy Forum made no mention in their sharing of the Mackinac Center article, that they too had been pushing for making Michigan a Right to Work State since the group started in 2008. In fact, at their second major conference, which was held in 2010, the WMPF invited Rick Berman to do a major presentation that not only centered around anti-unionism, Berman’s talk was essentially a “how to make Michigan a Right to Work state.”

In the end, you have the West Michigan Policy Forum post an article from a far right think tank, an article which does not provide sourcing to support its claim. In addition, there is no mention of the relationship between the WMPF and the Mackinac Center, a relationship that is centered in the financial support from the West Michigan elites to the Midland-based think tank. Lastly, both the Mackinac Center and the WMPF had a direct hand in making Michigan a Right to Work state, which means they need to make the claim that the economy is better now in Michigan than before there was a Right to Work policy. The question for all of us, a question that the West Michigan Policy Forum always asks, is who in particular has benefited from the Right to Work policy in Michigan? 

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