GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) - A right-to-work law won't have an immediate impact on existing Michigan businesses, but eventually will lead to smaller wage hikes for state workers and a better business climate, a business professor said.
In the end, this will draw more business to the state, Grand Valley State University Finance Professor Gregg Dimkoff said.
"Wages in Michigan could rise at a lower rate than otherwise; however, it doesn't matter what wages are or how high they're going up, if we don't have jobs," Dimkoff told 24 Hour News 8.
Dimkoff expects the law will lead to more jobs from outside companies that will see a more business-friendly Michigan; like neighboring state Indiana, which recently passed its own right-to-work law.
"So far this year, Michigan has lost 2,000 manufacturing jobs; Indiana has added 20,000, 30,000," he said. "Whether that's the entire cause, probably not, but it looks pretty suspicious."
"It will have a very slow impact on existing businesses. I think the biggest strength in going to a right-to-work state is businesses from other places will look at Michigan and say, 'Wow this is the 24th state that has these rules; this is a better place to locate than what we thought.'"
Those new companies would likely be non-union, he said.
The law will allow workers to stop paying union dues, even while getting the benefits of the union.
"Is it worth it for me to be a union member? Is it worth it for me to pay those dues? In the long-run, does this workforce need the union?" said GVSU Labor/Employment Professor Star Swift.
Many, she figures, will opt to save the dues, hastening the demise of unions.
Swift, who once oversaw labor relations for Republican Gov. John Engler, says the law could have a big impact on public employees, from teachers to garbage collectors. Most are unionized.
"Slowly, I think people will move away from the unions," she said.
But she says it will take more than right-to-work to turn Michigan around -- including a young work-force, high-tech jobs and better tax incentives.
"I've always been puzzled at this, focusing on the unions alone, except for the fact that the unions are very vocal anti-Republican," Swift said. "I think to just simply just focus it on unions is a big mistake."
She compares it to swinging a wrecking ball at an old building.
"At some point, that building starts to fall, right? Maybe not the first hit, not the second. This is a huge hit."
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