General Motor Co.’s (GM) CEO Mary Barra met with Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown (D), Senator Rob Portman (R), and Representative Tim Ryan (D) in Washington, D.C. to discuss GM’s recent announcement that it plans to eliminate 15,000 jobs and close four factories—one of which is located in Lordstown, Ohio. Barra explained to the Congressmen that the future of the Lordstown plant, which produces the slow-selling Chevrolet Cruze, will depend on the outcome of the labor talks between GM and theUAW. Barra also met with Michigan lawmakers regarding GM’s plans to close its Detroit-Hamtramck plant that produces the Chevrolet Impala and Chevrolet Volt. The UAW has begun its negotiations with Detroit’s automakers for a new four-year labor contract, as the existing labor contract among the parties is slated to expire in September 2019.
According to data collected by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, Michigan’s right-to-work law has spurred numerous public employees to opt out of paying union dues and fees. Since the law went into effect in 2013, Michigan’s government unions have experienced a 10 percent decrease in the number of members who pay union fees. In addition, the number of workers paying fees to Michigan State Employees Association (MSEA) has decreased from 3,079 to 2,734, while the number of workers paying fees to SEIU Local 517M has decreased from 3,532 to 2,750. The UAW Local 6000, one of the largest public sector unions in Michigan, has lost nearly 2,000 dues-paying employees since 2013. Overall, the percentage of Michigan’s public sector workforce who pay dues has decreased from 96 percent before the right-to-work law became effective, to 76 percent today. Because Michigan’s right-to-work law does not apply to public safety jobs, police and fire unions’ membership remains unaffected.