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Business Owners: Right-to-Work is Bad-for-Michigan

LANSING, MI—Small business owners in Michigan say right-to-work is bad for business because it drives down wages, damages the economy, and hurts consumers’ ability to purchase products and services.

Two small business owners told reporters Sunday that the anti-worker legislation that was rammed through the state legislature last week would make the state a less attractive venue for business and industry.

“A fairly paid workforce equals a healthy customer base,” Chris Jordan, who operates American Income Life Michigan in Portage, said during a news conference. “Right to work states consistently underperform in measurable economic drivers such as wages, benefits, and education. Michigan needs to continue to strengthen our local economies, not find new ways to drive the middle class into a ditch.”

Jordan, who employees 22 people—all unionized—says workers who belong to a union earn more annually in wages and benefits than non-union workers. That strengthens the economy and enables businesses like his to sell their product.

Scott Davis, who recently opened a small insurance office in Michigan, said he chose the state because it had a robust middle class. That is threatened by right-to work legislation, which would devastate working families and depress wages.

“As a business person I am totally opposed to right to work and other public policies which weaken a vibrant working middle class,” said Davis, who operates Davis Agencies in Farmington Hills with 14 unionized employees. “I recently moved to Michigan and opened a small business. Part of the appeal of Michigan is it’s strong middle class. Right to work will weaken workers collective power, and inevitably drive down the wages in Michigan.”

Those observations echoed the findings of a 2011 study by political economist Gordon Lafer. Lafer concluded that Michigan should not adopt a right-to-work law in an attempt to bolster its economy. Lafer found that such laws do not boost job growth in states that adopt them, and that they lower wages and reduce benefits for union and non-union workers alike. He also found that by reducing people’s income, right-to-work would have a negative effect on Michigan’s economy.