March 31, 2023
“The Free State of Florida protects your Right to Work. If you seek a pleasant peninsula, move to Florida” boasts billboards that popped up this week around Lansing, sponsored by Florida-based think tank The James Madison Institute’s Blueprint: Florida initiative.
This newly-launched initiative is committed to exporting Florida’s winning policies, that are rooted in hope and opportunity, to help individuals pursue the American Dream — and we are taking our message to places where that Dream is under attack.
In recent weeks, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and the Michigan Legislature have worked to undo the state’s hard-fought-for, valued right that protects private sector employees from losing their jobs for refusing to pay a union.
Whitmer’s insistence on the repeal turns a deaf ear to a majority of Michigan voters who indicated support of the law and the thousands of Michigan workers who have freely exercised their right to opt out since its passage over a decade ago.
Whitmer and Democrats are also choosing to ignore the voices of those who experienced mistreatment by the unions as her repeal will force those individuals to rejoin the same unions they fled, despite reported corruption.
Additionally, Whitmer and the Legislature will take away voters’ ability to claw back their right-to-work by referendum moving forward. They have also proposed to complement the right-to-work repeal with legislation that will force Michigan taxpayers to finance union dues payments — without a defined limit — by making those dues fully refundable through tax credits.
Additional legislation also aims to auto-deduct union dues to finance union political activities, arguably scratching the unions’ backs.
It’s her way or the highway — pothole-filled roads included.
Fortunately, there are highways that can (and are) leading Michiganians down to a more pleasant peninsula — and in droves.
Michigan ranked 4th for states with the highest outward migration in 2022, with thousands of Michigan residents choosing to migrate to the more pleasant peninsula the Sunshine State offers its workers and residents.
Florida has constitutionally protected employees’ right to work since 1944. Even as political power has changed hands over the ensuing decades, Floridians and their elected officials have stood by the Sunshine State’s belief that “the right to work is the right to live,” as stated clearly and definitively in Title 31, Section 447.01 of Florida statute.
Indeed, not only have Floridians defended this right for nearly 80 years, but we have built upon this protection through the pursuit of additional safeguards that expand employees’ awareness of their rights, ownership over their paychecks, opportunities to vote on whether a union can represent them in negotiations and what union receives that privilege, and transparency over how union elections are conducted.
Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Florida Legislature are in the final stages of passing legislation that would protect teachers’ paychecks from having union dues auto-withdrawn before their compensation ever reaches their own pockets. That same legislation will require unions to secure 60% support of the workplace body or face a mandatory recertification vote.
The juxtaposition between DeSantis’ leadership and Whitmer’s failure is stark.
While Michigan’s population has declined by over 47,000 people over the last five years, Florida’s population has grown by over 1.3 million. While Michigan’s economy ranks just 35th among the 50 states, Florida’s economy is among the top 3 most thriving in the country. Rich States, Poor States finds that Floridians also enjoy lower corporate taxes, lower property taxes, less debt, and — of course — no state income tax.
If Whitmer and the Legislature believe that a right-to-work repeal, draconian policies of forced union subsidization, and limiting voters’ powers at the ballot will reverse Michigan’s migration and poor economic recovery post-COVID, she may want to reconsider. According to a recent study by economists Michael LaFaive and Todd Nesbit, employment share is almost 21% higher in the border counties of states that adopted right-to-work laws after the year 2000 (like Michigan) than it would have been without these right-to-work protections. Furthermore, manufacturing’s share of employment in Indiana and Michigan (two states with right-to-work laws taking effect after the year 2000) were up 27.3% and 26.1%, respectively.
While it is disheartening to the undoing of meaningful policies that have benefited the state and its people, Florida remains a beacon of opportunity for people from Michigan and others around the country who may look for a place where they know their freedoms will be protected.
So come on down, Michiganians – the more pleasant peninsula awaits.