At the Center for Social Solutions, The Future of Work initiative centers on the world of work, workers, and its potential future constructions. This line of inquiry includes understanding the state of labor policy at all levels of governance, including the Center’s home state of Michigan:

“Two weeks ago, Michigan became the first state in 58 years to repeal a so-called “right-to-work” (RTW) law that restricts unions' ability to collectively bargain on behalf of workers. Michigan's repeal of the RTW law is a significant victory for workers and their families. This move sends a strong message that the state values the rights of its workers and recognizes their fundamental role in driving the economy. By taking this step, the state legislature has demonstrated its commitment to creating an environment that promotes fair wages and benefits, as well as safe working conditions,” CSS’ Future of Work research associate Caroline Egan explains. 

Because this repeal is the first of its kind, action remains necessary across the country to investigate RTW laws, understand their consequences, and work towards overturning them. Egan provides the following summary of these laws’ impact on workers:

“To understand what this repeal means, it is important to understand the function of RTW laws, which are currently in place in 27 states across the country. Despite their name, RTW laws do not confer a right to employment. Similarly, they also have nothing to do with whether people can be forced to join a union or pay union dues that fund political or ideological causes they oppose—a popular misunderstanding of their purpose. Federal law already ensures that no one can be forced to join a union as a condition of employment, and the Supreme Court has made clear that workers cannot be compelled to pay dues that go toward political or ideological causes they do not support. Instead, RTW legislation entitles employees to the benefits of a union contract, including representation in cases of workplace violations and abuse, without having to pay their fair share of the cost. The result is a weakened, impoverished union.”

In order to support current workers and workers of the future, CSS remains committed to research that examines the landscape of work across various industries and contexts.

“At the Center for Social Solutions,” says Egan, “we think critically about the future of work. We consider the ways in which work is changing as technological advances create new jobs while potentially rendering other sectors of the workforce redundant, and we evaluate the ways these technological advances may mitigate or exacerbate existing inequalities around race, gender, and socioeconomic status. In a world where work is changing rapidly, the ability of workers to collectively bargain for their wages, benefits, and working conditions is more important than ever. Michigan has taken a step in the right direction to ensure that workers have a hand in shaping their own future.”