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Michigan Repeals “Right-to-Work” Law

Michigan’s “Freedom to Work” law, effective since 2013, currently prohibits public and private sector employees from being required, as a “condition of employment,” to belong to a labor union or to pay a “service fee” in lieu of membership. The current law also invalidates any collective bargaining provision to the contrary, and prohibits enforcement of such unlawful provisions.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed into law legislation repealing the Freedom to Work law insofar as it applies to private-sector employees. The repealer will be effective as of March 30, 2024. Governor Whitmer signed a separate bill that would similarly repeal these prohibition as to public sector workers in the event the U.S. Supreme Court reverses a 2018 decision that essentially adopted similar “right-to-work” principles with respect to public sector employees and unions. That decision ruled that it is a violation of public workers’ first amendment speech rights to be required to join or financially support public sector labor unions through mandatory “service fees.”

When the new law takes effect, it will, for the first time since 2013, be legal for private-sector unions to negotiate and enforce “union security” requiring membership in, or financial support through “Beck Objector” fees, of those unions.  See NLRB FAQ’s

Per data collected by researchers available at, in 2022, close to 39,000 private sector workers in Michigan were covered by a collective bargaining agreement but were not union members paying dues or service fees. Now, when the new law goes into effect, those individuals will be required to pay dues or fees. Employers can be forced to fire bargaining unit workers who refuse to pay dues or fees under the enforcement of a lawful union security clause.

Private Sector employers in Michigan have approximately one year to prepare for the effective date of the new law. Employers with unionized workforces should anticipate attempts by unions to enforce “suspended’ union security clauses or renegotiate such provisions into future collective bargaining agreements, and plan accordingly.

If you have questions about the new law or require assistance, please contact David J. Houston or your Fraser Trebilcock attorney.

This alert serves as a general summary and does not constitute legal guidance. Please contact us with any specific questions.

Attorney David J. HoustonFraser Trebilcock Shareholder Dave Houston has over 40 years of experience representing employers in planning, counseling, and litigating virtually all employment claims and disputes including labor relations (NLRB and MERC), wage and overtime, and employment discrimination, and negotiation of union contracts. He has authored numerous publications regarding employment issues. You can reach him at 517.377.0855 or

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