Michigan would be first blue ‘Right to Work’ state

December 11, 2012

If Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R) signs his state's new "Right to Work" legislation, Michigan would become the first blue state in the country to embrace such a law.

And it might be the last -- at least for a while.

Below is a look at the 23 states that currently have "Right to Work" laws on the books, along with some other states -- mostly in the Northeast -- where such laws have been proposed this year.


Source: State Net

You'll note that basically all of the "Right to Work" states are red states at the presidential level, with a few swing states -- Nevada, Iowa, Virginia, North Carolina and Florida -- sprinkled in.

In fact, the only red states that don't have "Right to Work" laws are Alaska, Kentucky, Montana and West Virginia.

That means the next frontier for the "Right to Work" movement is in blue states and swing states -- many in which Republicans made big gains in 2010.

But it's not clear how much room for growth the "Right to Work" movement has right now. Indiana, which passed a "Right to Work" law early this year, was the first state in a decade to do so, and the prospects for another state following in Indiana's and (potentially) Michigan's footsteps appear less than certain.

Generally, to pass a "Right to Work" bill, you need Republican control of all three pieces of the legislative process -- the two state legislative chambers and the governorship.

The only non-"Right to Work" states that will have that come January, along with Michigan, are Alaska, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

But given the pitched union battles in Ohio and Wisconsin in recent years, it seems unlikely that Govs. Scott Walker (R-Wis.) and John Kasich (R-Ohio) would pick another big battle (Kasich notably lost in his effort to curb collective bargaining rights). And no "Right to Work" law has been actively pushed in Alaska, Pennsylvania or Wisconsin.

So for now, Michigan is the last frontier for the "Right to Work" movement.

Aaron Blake covers national politics and writes regularly for The Fix.
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Aaron Blake · December 11, 2012