Members of UFCW Locals 876 and 951 played a significant role in restoring workers’ rights in Michigan, which became the first state in over 50 years to repeal an anti-worker right-to-work law. Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed Senate Bill 34 into law on March 24, which will help to restore workers’ voices on the job to collectively bargain for safer workplaces and better wages. The law will officially go into effect in early 2024.
“Right to work has always been wrong for Michigan,” said UFCW Local 951 President John Cakmakci after the bill was signed. “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. Their action will restore fairness to the workplace and create a brighter future for all working families in Michigan.”
In the months leading up to the bill reaching Governor Whitmer’s desk, UFCW Locals 876 and 951 worked together to run an aggressive member engagement program that started back in the 2022 midterm election.
“We knew the 2022 elections would be competitive and have huge stakes for our members and our issues,” said UFCW Local 876 President Dan Pedersen. “As early as August, we had member organizers out running an aggressive political program to educate our members about where the candidates stood on our issues, including repealing Michigan’s anti-worker laws. The work of our member organizers came full circle in January 2023 when a pro-worker majority took over in Lansing, and their work shifted to engaging in the legislative fight to restore workers’ rights and freedom in the state.”
From January to March, UFCW members in Michigan participated in a multitude of grassroots legislative advocacy tactics. Starting on January 11, when the new state legislature was sworn into office, UFCW members were in Lansing advocating for the repeal of Michigan’s anti-worker laws. From that day on, UFCW members kept the pressure on the state capitol by collecting postcards, sending emails, and making phone calls to encourage their elected leaders to prioritize restoring workers’ rights in Michigan. On March 14, this work culminated in a UFCW member lobby day where over 200 members from across the state met with their Senators and watched the Senate bill to repeal anti-worker laws pass a committee hearing and move to the Senate floor to pass.
“UFCW locals in Michigan showed unrelenting leadership in pushing for the repeal of this anti-worker law,” said International Vice President and Director of the Legislative and Political Action Department Ademola Oyefeso. “In 2017, both locals saw the early opportunity to support a candidate for governor who has been steadfast in her support for workers and stood with them in fighting the undemocratic passage of right-to-work in Michigan when union members were locked out of the capitol and tear-gassed.”
“Michigan has shown that we can legislatively roll back these undemocratic, anti-worker laws designed by billionaires and their corporate special-interest groups to put more profits in their pockets and silence workers,” Oyefeso added. “If we build clear pro-worker majorities in state legislatures and have the support of pro-worker governors like Gretchen Whitmer, real change for hard-working people is on the horizon across the country.”