One day after President Obama's trip to Michigan to campaign against the state's adoption of a right-to-work law, I defended the decision by the Michigan state legislature to become the 24th right-to-work state in a speech on the Senate floor, saying it will make us a stronger, more competitive country--it has everything to do with economics. No one, in passing a right-to-work law, is taking away workers' rights. They're actually giving them a new right: the right not to have to pay union dues in order to get or keep a job.
Thirty-four years ago, none of the states north of Tennessee had a right-to-work law. They had a very different labor environment. So Nissan came to Tennessee, in part because of our right-to-work law, and now, over the last 30 years, probably a dozen large assembly plants have come to the southeastern part of the United States, and there are about 1,000 suppliers in our state today. What has been the effect of the arrival of the auto industry in Tennessee, attracted by, among other things, our right-to-work law? One-third of our manufacturing jobs today are auto jobs.