University of Pittsburgh
December 11, 2012

Business Dean Says Pending Right-to-Work Legislation in Michigan May Be a Blueprint for Other States

John T. Delaney, formerly a business professor and associate dean at Michigan State University, says the new legislation is likely to become a blueprint for other states
Contact:  412-624-4147

PITTSBURGH—Leading labor expert John T. Delaney, dean of the Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business and College of Business Administration at the University of Pittsburgh and a former business faculty member and associate dean at Michigan State University, is available to discuss the bill to establish a right-to-work law in Michigan, expected to be passed today by Michigan’s legislature and signed into law by Michigan Governor Rick Snyder. The bill, Delaney says, is not only a landmark piece of legislation—given the historic strength of unions in the state and the apparent ease with which the legislation has advanced—but is likely to become a blueprint for other states to use in passing right-to-work laws of their own. 

If the legislation becomes law, Michigan will become the 24th state with a right-to-work law. According to Delaney, this will likely galvanize supporters of such laws to introduce them in other states. These laws are opposed by organized labor because unions are required to represent equally all workers covered by a union contract. It is argued that absent the possibility of requiring dues payments, many workers would become free riders, enjoying the gains negotiated by unions without paying any of the costs of representation. Proponents of right-to-work laws emphasize that it is unfair to force an individual to join or support an organization against their will. 

Delaney is available to discuss the ramifications of the law if it is enacted and the nature of right-to-work laws in other U.S. states. He also is willing to discuss the implications of the specific approach taken in the Michigan legislation to eliminate the possibility of a public referendum on the issue by Michigan voters. If a right-to-work law is passed in Michigan, Delaney says it should be assumed that such legislation could be enacted in any state—including Pennsylvania.  

Delaney may be reached at 412-648-1556 or jtdelaney@katz.pitt.edu. 

Delaney is a nationally known scholar in negotiation, dispute resolution, and labor-management relations. Before assuming his current position at Pitt, he was professor and associate dean in Michigan State University’s Eli Broad College of Business and Graduate School of Management. Prior to that, he was professor of management at the University of Iowa and a professor in the Columbia University Graduate School of Business.  

Delaney has written and edited many articles, reports, and books on labor relations, unions, and collective bargaining, including Collective Bargaining in the Private Sector (Industrial Relations and Research Association, 2002). He has written about right-to-work laws in several academic journals. In addition, Delaney has provided expert testimony in Washington, D.C., to the National Labor Relations Board and the Subcommittee on Labor of the U.S. Senate Committee on Labor and Human Resources. He also has been interviewed and quoted by reporters from many news organizations, among them The Wall Street JournalThe New York TimesThe Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, CNN, CBS News, and National Public Radio.

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12/11/12/mab/cjhm