Last week, Michigan became the country’s 24th right-to-work state, which means that in the long run-at least theoretically-it is in competition with Tennessee for businesses such as auto manufacturing.
“I look at it in the same way as a landmark Supreme Court decision,” Bill Visnic, Edmunds.com senior analyst, said. “[It doesn’t] impact any specific thing at this moment, but it sets the tone for how you have to approach this in the future.”
Michigan is where the nation’s largest organized labor movement-the United Auto Workers-started, according to CNN.
Michigan’s move follows a similar move in Indiana.
Last February, Indiana changed to a right-to-work state. State Gov. Mitch Daniels signed a bill that prevents union contracts from requiring nonunion members to pay fees for representation, according to Nooga.com archives and The New York Times.
That made the state the first Midwestern manufacturing state to have such a law, also according to Nooga.com archives.
In right-to-work states, workers have the right to decide whether to join a union.
Tennessee leaders tout the state as a hub for manufacturing. Traditionally, when manufacturing leaders look to locate in a new state, right-to-work states have some advantage because unions are more difficult to establish there.
And Southern states are traditionally right-to-work states.
So, when states such as Indiana and Michigan join the ranks of right-to-work states, that could eventually mean more competition for Tennessee.
But, for now, for practical purposes, unions in Michigan still have power, Visnic said.
“But at some point, this leads to the next step and the step after that,” he said. “Eventually, one day … you [may not have] enough of a constituency there of people who do not want to be in the union.”