The Mackinac Center began pushing for the reforms virtually from its founding in 1988 in Midland, Mich. In 1995, the group’s president and founder Lawrence Reed convinced the state’s largest daily to publish an op-ed promoting the idea. Reed wrote: “Michigan is overdue for a thoughtful consideration of fundamental labor law. Should workers be compelled to join a labor union to hold their jobs.” [Detroit Free Press, December 6, 1995]
Well, it took another 17 years, and a lot of observing other states move ahead with better policies. Today, Reed, who now heads up the Foundation for Economic Education, writes:
Many good people came to be involved, but no honest or thorough history of how Michigan ended the scourge of compulsory unionism can be told without citing the indispensable role of the Mackinac Center. I am immensely proud of that fact. We made the case for it when it was on no one’s radar. We produced studies, commentaries and lectures about the concept for two decades. We simply never gave up. When you know something is right, why would you?
One of the chief architects of our long-term strategy was my best friend and, before he died in a plane crash in June 2003, Mackinac’s senior vice president, Joe Overton. This great triumph for liberty is a tribute to him as much as it is to any person or any organization. Joe, we did it—just as you knew we would, sooner or later! [Mackinac Center, December 13, 2012]