Reform Movement Troubled by Michigan “Right-to-Work” Law

On Tuesday Michigan passed a “right-to-work” law. This law, which bans required union dues, strips labor unions of their power to represent their membership. This law makes it more difficult for unions to effectively serve as an ally to workers and to uphold their rights.

The Reform Movement has been a longstanding supporter of workers’ rights based on a historic Jewish commitment to the cause, which is derived from the biblical commandment, “You shall not abuse a needy and destitute laborer, whether a fellow countryman or a stranger in one of the communities of your land” (Deut. 24:13).

Labor unions are responsible for the foundation of workers’ rights today, from the 40-hour workweek to child labor laws, and many improvements in between. Rabbi David Saperstein decried the new Michigan law, stating: “Unions act as an ally and represent those workers without a voice, ensuring their rights and shielding them from abuse. The new law threatens the well-being of Michigan workers and exposes them to misrepresentation and manipulation.”

You can read Rabbi Saperstein’s full statement here.