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Gov. Whitmer Signs ‘Restoring Workers’ Rights’ Bill Package Into Law
March 24, 2023
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 24, 2023
Gov. Whitmer Signs ‘Restoring Workers’ Rights’ Bill Package Into Law
Restoring Workers’ Rights legislation will protect workers, grow the middle class, create jobs earning up to $1,600 more than instates without strong worker protections
LANSING, Mich.—Today, Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed the ‘Restoring Workers’ Rights’ bill package restoring and protecting workers’ rights in Michigan. House Bills 4004 and 4007 and Senate Bill 34 strengthen our labor laws to protect workers’ safety, keep government from getting in the way of negotiations between businesses and workers, and empower workers to advocate for better working conditions and wages. The bills also restore prevailing wage, ensuring the best value on infrastructure for Michigan taxpayers and raising wages for working people, helping them support their families and improve their quality of life.
“Today, we are coming together to restore workers’ rights, protect Michiganders on the job, and grow Michigan’s middle class,” said Governor Whitmer. “Michigan workers are the most talented and hard-working in the world and deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. These bills will protect health and safety, ensuring healthcare workers can put patient care ahead of profit, construction workers can speak up when there’s a safety issue, and employees can call attention to food safety threats and other problems. Let’s continue delivering for working people and ensuring Michigan is open for business.”
“Today, we are taking steps to ensure every worker can be respected and protected at work, retire with dignity, access health care that meets their needs, and support their family,” said Lt. Governor Garlin Gilchrist II. “Restoring MI Workers’ Rights will help us grow our middle class, build a thriving economy, and invest in vibrant communities. Governor Whitmer and I are committed to investing in workers and building a Michigan we can be proud to pass on to the next generations.”
House Bill 4004 and Senate Bill 34 restore provisions helping workers collectively bargain, without government interference, for better working conditions, higher wages, and safer workplaces. According to a nonpartisan economic study, workers’ wages in states without strong worker protections are 3.1 percent—on average, $1,600—lower per year than in states with strong worker protections, after adjusting for differences in cost of living.
House Bill 4007 restores prevailing wage on all state projects, creating good-paying jobs and ensuring hard-working people can earn a decent standard of living, take care of their families, and have a secure retirement. Reinstating prevailing wage will put more money in people’s pockets and guarantees Michigan gets the well-trained, skilled workforce to build safe, reliable infrastructure.
“Today is a historic win for workers everywhere, and this is the first time any state has been able to do this in almost sixty years,” said Senator Darren Camilleri (D-Trenton), sponsor of SB 34. “We were so proud to get this to the governor’s desk, and even prouder to see it signed into law—this is tangible proof that the Republican attack on organized labor has failed. We’re entering a new chapter in Michigan.”
“All workers have value and should be compensated fairly,” said Senator Veronica Klinefelt (D-Eastpointe), sponsor of a bill in the package. “By paying prevailing wages, we not only lift Michigan families and increase the quality of life for workers in our state, but we also set an example for others to follow.”
“I am incredibly proud to stand with working people by restoring workers’ freedom and repealing the so-called ‘right to work’ law,” said State Representative Regina Weiss (D-Oak Park), sponsor of HB 4004. “’Right to work’ is a lie that has only hurt workers in our state and allowed some to benefit from union contracts without paying their fair share. With this repeal, we are restoring workers’ rights to create a bargaining environment where workers and employers are equal.”
“I’m so happy to see this bill signed into law. When I first joined the legislature, one of my main goals was to restore Michigan’s prevailing wage, and I’m grateful to see that we will,” said State Representative Brenda Carter (D-Pontiac), sponsor of HB 4007. “We are showing the nation that Michigan is a worker-friendly state, where workers will receive a fair wage for their hard work. By ensuring fair, competitive wages, we can attract and retain a highly trained workforce because we don’t want to see critical infrastructure projects built by contractors who cut corners.”
“Nurses and healthcare professionals understand that having a strong collective voice keeps patients safe at the bedside,” said Janella James, Executive Director of the Michigan Nurses Association. “Now that workers' rights have been restored, Michigan is once again leading the way for the country in showing what is possible when working families are put first. We want to thank Governor Whitmer and the Legislature for listening to workers and setting our state on a better path. Today marks the beginning of a new chapter in Michigan’s history.”
“After decades of anti-worker attacks, Michigan has restored the balance of power for working people by passing laws to protect their freedom to bargain for the good wages, good benefits, and safe workplaces they deserve,” said Ron Bieber, President of Michigan AFL-CIO. “Ten years ago, Governor Whitmer was standing side by side with well over ten thousand working people who showed up in Lansing to protest the devastating attack on their rights. Today, she has demonstrated yet again her unwavering commitment to putting working families first. After decades of attacks on working people, it’s a new day in Michigan, and the future is bright.”
"Service and care workers across Michigan are celebrating that once again we have the freedom to build strong unions so we can negotiate for good jobs that build thriving communities,” said Brandice Mullen, Vice President, SEIU Michigan. “Working Michiganders — Black, Latino, Asian and white — are reclaiming our seat at the table so we can speak with a united voice about the better future we all want for our children. Stronger unions give us a fair shot at holding corporations accountable so we can create more jobs with the wages, healthcare coverage, and retirement security that sustain families."
"Today Governor Whitmer and the Democratic majorities of the House and Senate delivered two incredible wins for working people across Michigan,” said Tom Lutz, Executive Secretary-Treasurer of the Michigan Regional Council of Carpenters and Millwrights. “Repealing the so-called “right to work” strengthens working people's ability to organize and their power to negotiate for better pay, benefits, and safety. Meanwhile, restoring prevailing wage requirements for public projects ensures workers are compensated fairly for a hard day's work, creates a level playing field for both union and non-union contractors who follow the rules and pay their taxes, and benefits taxpayers with lower cost, higher quality projects."
“We are proud to have legislators who understand the importance of putting democracy back into the workplace and protecting workers’ freedoms,” said Lawrence A. Roehrig, President of AFSCME Council 25. “By repealing right to work and creating a prevailing wage, Michigan workers can blaze the pathways for worker freedoms. We will continue to stand in solidarity to expand workers’ rights and protect the safety of workers and others. It is a great day to be a union worker.”
"Right to work has always been wrong for Michigan. I would like to commend and thank the Michigan legislature and Governor Whitmer for doing the right thing for Michigan workers by repealing this anti-worker legislation," said John Cakmakci, United Food and Commercial Workers Local 951 President. "Their action will restore fairness to the workplace and create a brighter future for all working families in Michigan."
“The Upper Peninsula Regional Labor Federation knows that working people are the backbone of Michigan and keeping unions strong will guarantee that workers will prosper,” said Tony Ghiringhelli, President of the Upper Peninsula Regional Labor Federation. “We thank the governor and legislators that voted to protect our freedoms. Michigan is putting democracy back in the workplace.”
Growing Michigan’s Economy
Michigan is on the move and open for business. We are making key investments in education, infrastructure, and our communities as part of a long-term, coordinated approach to growing economic opportunity and building a state where everyone can envision a future.
- According to an MEDC survey, nearly two-thirds of Michigan businesses described the state as having a positive business climate and would promote Michigan as a place to start a business.
- Governor Whitmer led the best economic recovery in Michigan history, adding 220,000 jobs in 2021 and 92,000 new jobs since February 2022.
- Since Governor Whitmer took office, Michigan has created more than 35,000 auto jobs.
- Top state for electric vehicle and battery investments, bringing home $16.5 billion in investments creating 16,300 jobs thanks to the creation of the bipartisan Strategic Outreach Attraction Reserve (SOAR) fund (EDF).
- Top 3 state for sustainable development (Site Selection Magazine)
- Top 2 state for economic recovery from COVID-19 (Credible)
- #1 state for energy job growth (U.S. Department of Energy)
- Expected to “dominate” electric vehicle battery manufacturing (CNBC)
- Home to “the next Silicon Valley” for mobility innovation (Newsweek)
- Posed to draw down $26 billion creating 34,000 new clean energy jobs from the Inflation Reduction Act and 64,000 new manufacturing jobs by 2030 from investments proposed in the MI Healthy Climate Plan (RMI)
Fighting for Michigan Workers
Governor Whitmer is committed to growing Michigan’s middle class, empowering workers, building thriving communities, and creating good-paying jobs you can raise a family on.
- Delivered the highest ever education funding in our state’s history without raising taxes.
- Lowered the cost of a 4-year degree by $27,500, helping four out of five graduating seniors.
- Funded Michigan Reconnect and Futures for Frontliners to put tens of thousands of Michiganders on a tuition-free path to higher education and skills training.
- Invested hundreds of millions to expand access to affordable housing, building more than 25,000 new or rehabilitated apartments or single family homes.
- Expanded access to low or no cost child care to families earning up to $55,500—150,000 more families.
- Reinstated prevailing wage for all state contractors and subcontractors.
- Created more than 35,000 good-paying auto jobs.