Survey: Small Businesses Don’t Support Repealing Right to Work Laws

Small businesses don’t support repealing Michigan’s Right to Work policies, which they say would make it even harder to do business and only benefits union workers, according to a new survey by the Small Business Association of Michigan (SBAM) in Lansing.
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Small businesses don’t support repealing Michigan’s Right to Work policies, according to the Small Business Association of Michigan (SBAM) in Lansing. // Stock Photo
Small businesses don’t support repealing Michigan’s Right to Work policies, according to the Small Business Association of Michigan (SBAM) in Lansing. // Stock Photo

Small businesses don’t support repealing Michigan’s Right to Work policies, which they say would make it even harder to do business and only benefits union workers, according to a new survey by the Small Business Association of Michigan (SBAM) in Lansing.

“Michigan’s small businesses are still facing challenges as they continue to invest and grow in Michigan,” says Brian Calley, president and CEO of SBAM. “Small businesses made it clear that they do not support returning to policies that served Michigan so poorly in the past.”

Key takeaways from the survey were that more than 74 percent of survey respondents oppose repealing Michigan’s Right to Work laws and 64 percent oppose reinstating prevailing wage laws in the state.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer wants to repeal the laws to reward a favorite constituency, namely labor unions, that provide millions of dollars in campaign donations to Democratic candidates both in Michigan and across the country.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the union membership rate — the percent of wage and salary workers who were members of unions — was 10.1 percent in 2022, down from 10.3 percent in 2021.

Notably, according to SBAM, 86 percent of respondents believe that all retirement income should be treated equally. Eighty-two percent also support exempting a portion of the sale from a business from income taxes to create some parity with more traditional retirement assets. Additionally, 50 percent of respondents support increasing the Earned Income Tax Credit for low- to moderate-income workers.

The survey, conducted Jan. 18-27 of nearly 500 small business owners also revealed that:

  • 67 percent of small business owners are having a harder time attracting and maintaining employees than in the previous year.
  • 77 percent of small businesses say employee compensation has increased in the past year.
  • 40 percent of small businesses have experienced health care costs increasing more than 10 percent over the past year.
  • 70 percent of small business owners say that supply chain shortages are still having a negative impact on their operations.
  • 91 percent of small businesses say they are experiencing higher cost increases compared to normal times.
  • 65 percent of respondents said that inflation remained the top problem hurting their business.

As a result of this survey, SBAM released proposed changes to Senate Bill 1 and House Bill 4001 to establish exemptions for the private sector that include the middle class. The proposal called for:

  • Increasing exemptions to $65,000 and $130,000 for single and joint filers respectively to encompass the middle class. Index the amounts to inflation (consumer price index).
  • Expanding eligibility of the exemption to seniors who remain in the workforce.
  • Allowing working seniors to start claiming this exemption upon attainment of the age of 59.5 which is the age that typical private sector retirement accounts are eligible for withdrawal without penalty.

The full survey and details on the middle class and working senior retiree exemption amendment are available at sbam.org.