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Michigan’s Repealed “Right-to-Work” Law Takes Effect

On Tuesday, February 13, 2024, Michigan’s repeal of the prior “right-to-work” law governing private-sector workers went into effect. The result of the repeal is that private-sector unions may permissibly negotiate to impasse, and enforce, “union security” provisions requiring membership in, or financial support through “Beck Objector” fees, of those unions. See NLRB FAQ’s.

Michigan’s “Freedom to Work” law enacted under Republican Governor Rick Snyder became effective in 2013. That law prohibited 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 2013 law invalidated any collective bargaining provision to the contrary, and prohibited enforcement of such unlawful provisions.

In 2023, Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed into law legislation repealing the Freedom to Work law insofar as it applies to private-sector employees. Governor Whitmer also signed a separate bill that would similarly repeal this 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, which reversal has not occurred.  So, the present change does not affect the current prohibition of a membership requirement in a public sector collective bargaining agreement.

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, those individuals may permissibly be required to pay dues or fees if “union security” provisions are bargained into, or “suspended” in, applicable collective bargaining agreements. In that event, affected employers could be required to fire bargaining unit workers who refuse to pay dues or fees under the enforcement of a lawful union security clause.

Employers with unionized workforces should anticipate attempts by unions to enforce “suspended” union security clauses or negotiate 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