5 things to know about Mich. right-to-work bills

Here's a primer on the controversial legislation signed into law by the governor this week.
AP Wire
Dec 12, 2012

 

Here are five things to know about right-to-work legislation approved by the Michigan Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Rick Snyder:

THE NAME IS MISLEADING

It isn't about a right to work but rather a right for workers to choose whether they want to join a union or pay fees that amount to union dues. The legislation prohibits what are known as "closed shops," where workers have no choice but to join a union or pay those fees.

IT MOVED SWIFTLY

The GOP majority used its superior numbers and backing from Gov. Rick Snyder to ramrod legislation through the House and Senate last week. They brushed aside denunciations and challenges by helpless Democrats and cries of outrage from thousands of union activists who swarmed the state Capitol hallways and grounds. Snyder signed the bills into law Tuesday, hours after the final House votes.

BUT DIDN'T OVER EASILY

Supporters, including Republican leaders in the Legislature and the Michigan Chamber of Commerce, insist it's about freedom of association for workers and a better business climate. Critics, including Democrats and Michigan's sizable labor contingent, contend the real intent is to bleed unions of money and bargaining power and allow nonunion workers to get the perks without paying for it. Thousands protested at the Michigan Capitol, but even they acknowledged before the final votes that it would inevitably become law.

IT'S NOT THE FIRST

Michigan becomes the 24th state with such laws. Victory in the Great Lakes State gives the right-to-work movement its strongest foothold yet in the Rust Belt region, where organized labor already has suffered several body blows. Republicans in Indiana and Wisconsin recently pushed through legislation curbing union rights, sparking long, massive protests.

RUST BELT RERUN?

Law enforcement officials vowed Michigan won't become "another Wisconsin," where demonstrators occupied the state Capitol around the clock for nearly three weeks. They took steps to prevent that.

Last Thursday, eight people were arrested — and a few of them pepper-sprayed — after authorities say they disobeyed orders and tried to rush past two state troopers and into the Senate chamber. Out of concerns for the safety of people and the historic building, authorities said, they temporarily closed the building and kept hundreds outside. A judge later ordered it reopened.

Police say they are mindful of the need to keep "the people's house" open if at all possible but are keeping a close eye on areas that are becoming overcrowded and would close them off if necessary. They also significantly stepped up police presence to correspond with the number of demonstrators coming from across the state and beyond.

They say they used pepper spray again Tuesday to subdue a protester outside the Capitol who had his hands on a female trooper being pulled into a crowd. Police also arrested two people after they tried to get into a state office building where the governor has an office.

Comments

Lanivan

This site also explains the myths and the facts surrounding Right To Work...
http://mediamatters.org/research...

migpilot

Let see, duly elected lawmakers passing a law. It must be the will of the people. I think the UAW should retire to their country club to rethink their strategy.

Lanivan

Why do you oppose keeping the Michigan middle class strong, and support measures that benefit Big Business? Why do you want to see the unions that represent average workers and have given this country 40 hr work weeks/benefits/job safety break down, while supporting Big Business that is sitting on the greatest total % of wealth ever recorded?

Yes - industry creates most jobs, and of course Michigan must have an attractive business climate, but at what point does it become unbalanced?

Why do you negatively equate unions with country clubs, and lawmakers with the will of the people, when the unions represent the average person and the lawmakers work for their wealthy benefactors?

Lanivan

The article states, "The legislation prohibits what are known as closed shops, where workers have no choice but to join a union or pay those fees". I thought the Taft-Hartley Act of 1947 addressed this, and many other, union issues, so why the need for more redundant government regulation?

Also, Migpilot - The will of the people resoundingly repealed the Emergency Manager bill in November, but just this morning another Emergency Manager bill passed the House. So much for the "will of the people" and yet more government regulation. How do we get smaller government in this state??

opinionscount

Smaller government? But, yet, union control is acceptable?

Lanivan

Since 1979, Michigan union membership has gone done 19%, from 37% to 18%. Unions just happen to represent workers - the middle class - and as union membership has gone down, so have middle class wages and benefits in Michigan.

As unions have gotten weaker, they have made lots of concessions in the last several years. "Union control" is hardly the urgent problem here. It can't be stronger economic growth, because there is no evidence RTW laws on their own make a state stronger economically. Look at Ohio - a big union state. The people got to VOTE on a referendum on RTW/Collective Bargaining last year and voted it down. Meanwhile, fast forward to 2012, and Ohio is growing, unemployment is at 6.9%, high wage/skill industry is moving to the state.

SO - why the need to push more union regulation/legislation? And the need to push more 1950-style legislation on women's rights? And more legislation on loosening up even more on gun control? These politicians were voted into office on job creation and making Michigan strong again, not turning it into Mississippi, Alabama, or Kentucky (all beautiful states, and I love to visit, but the quality of living is not something most of the country aspires to).

 

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