Bills restore workers’ rights to speak with one voice to negotiate pay, benefits, ensure state pays a prevailing wage
LANSING, Mich. (March 14, 2023) — Today, the Senate Democratic Majority voted to pass Senate Bills 6 and 34, the Restoring Workers’ Rights package.
“The ability to speak up together with one voice for better pay and benefits and safer workplace conditions is a right that workers deserve,” said Senate Majority Leader Winnie Brinks (D-Grand Rapids). “By repealing anti-worker laws, we’re making our state a place where people want to come, work hard, and build a life knowing that they will be respected and able to earn a good living. It’s a new era in Lansing and we are taking this historic opportunity to restore workers’ freedom.”
Senate Bill 34, sponsored by Sen. Darrin Camilleri (D-Trenton) and passed in concert with House Bill 4004, will guarantee that both public and private employees at unionized workplaces equally contribute to the costs of union representation. With the historic passage of these bills, Michigan will be the first state to repeal anti-worker laws and restore collective bargaining rights since 1958.
“Today, we are doing something no state has done in nearly 60 years,” said Sen. Camilleri. “With the repeal of these worker suppression laws, workers all across our state will be able to secure better wages, benefits, and treatment at their jobs, and it will help build power in families that will last for generations, like it did for my own.”
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, workers in states with expanded workers’ rights make $11,747 more annually. The Economic Policy Institute found workers in states with worker suppression policies earn an average of 3.1% less than workers in pro-worker states. This wage gap is particularly pronounced for workers in low-wage industries, such as food service and retail, who are more likely to be paid poverty-level wages.
The National Bureau of Economic Research shows how laws eroding workers’ freedoms are associated with lower wages and lower unionization rates over the long run. This legislation will also increase worker safety on the job and provide Michigan workers with the freedom to negotiate with their employer.
Senate Bill 6, sponsored by Sen. Veronica Klinefelt (D-Eastpointe), would restore the state’s prevailing wage law, which ensures the State of Michigan pays a prevailing wage and hires the highest skilled workers available on contracts to build roads, bridges and schools.
“All workers have value and should be compensated fairly. I firmly believe that the State of Michigan should get back to the practice of seeking highly skilled workers and paying competitive wages on our construction projects,” said Sen. Klinefelt. “By paying prevailing wages, we not only lift up Michigan families and increase the quality of life for workers in our state, we also build better buildings, roads, and bridges which in turn, increases the quality and life of our infrastructure.”
New poll results released yesterday by the Michigan AFL-CIO show that 75 percent of Michigan voters want to expand workers’ rights laws. Fifty-eight percent of likely 2024 voters are supportive of laws that guarantee employees at unionized workplaces equally contribute to the costs of union representation, the policy that SB 34 and HB 4004 that were passed by the Senate today will restore. Expanding workers’ rights was popular across the political spectrum, with net favorability at +56 percent with Independents and +33 percent with Republicans.
“A union is the extension of democracy to the workplace, giving workers a voice and power to help determine their own working conditions, pay, and benefits,” said Sen. John Cherry (D-Flint), Senate Labor Committee Chair, which took testimony on and passed the Restoring Workers’ Rights bills this morning. “By repealing Michigan’s worker suppression law, we are restoring workers’ rights, returning that voice and reinvigorating that power, and our entire state will benefit from our action today.”