MEEKHOF: Freedom to Work legislation bold and historic

Dec. 11 was a bold and historic day for Michigan. With Gov. Rick Snyder’s signature, Freedom to Work is now the law of the land, and I’m proud to say that “Michigan is open for business.”
Dec 18, 2012

 

This important legislation is about workplace fairness and equality. As Republicans, we believe workers should have greater control over how they live their lives and over the decisions that impact their own family’s bottom line.

Michigan’s workforce — the most talented, skilled and dedicated workers in the world — now has freedom to make union membership a personal choice, rather than a mandatory term of employment.

I want to emphasize that this legislation in no way impedes the right to collective bargaining. Collective bargaining is a federally protected right that all workers in this nation maintain.

The timing of this legislation couldn’t be more critical. Given our economic situation, immediate and decisive action was required. Michigan has lost nearly 1 million jobs in the past 10 years, including talented young people graduating from our colleges and universities looking for career opportunities. A number of Michigan cities, including Detroit, are on the verge of bankruptcy.

We need change — and jobs — now.

Site selection experts from across the country say that up to half of all companies that hire them to find a good location won’t even consider states that do not provide workers the “freedom to work.”

Freedom to Work will help Michigan attract the new jobs we need to compete in the 21st century. Thanks to the leadership of House and Senate Republicans, this legislation will help our communities recover faster economically, and will put Michigan on the right track to move forward in a way that provides opportunity not only to today’s workers, but workers for generations to come.

I believe providing Michiganders with more employment opportunities and greater freedom and choice over their lives is pro-worker. But anyone who has watched the news over the past week is doubtless familiar with the images of angry, sometimes violent, union protests on our state Capitol lawn. There is no doubt that a by-product of empowering workers is the fact that unions will have to change and adapt to maintain relevance. They don’t like this.

Unions in Michigan will now have to provide members, or prospective members, with a value proposition. Labor leaders must compete for membership. 

In a free market, competition is good for the consumer. In this case, competition for dues will lead to improved service, greater accountability and stronger representation — and that’s good for both workers and unions.

The symbolic importance of Michigan’s adoption of Freedom to Work legislation is not lost on us. Michigan is the birthplace of the UAW, long considered the most powerful union in the nation and an iconic representation of unions to most Americans. Unions have played an important role in the development of the auto industry, helping Michigan to “put the world on wheels.”

But the world has changed considerably in the past 100 years. To prosper in today’s global economy, as states we must create for ourselves the greatest economic opportunity for our workers. Freedom to Work will firmly place Michigan on the path to economic recovery and job creation. 

— State Sen. Arlan Meekhof, R-West Olive, is the Senate majority floor leader and represents Ottawa County.

Comments

Communications Guru

I agree that it’s historic and bold, but I would also add underhanded. It’s certainly not a freedom to work; more like freedom to freeload. The fact is federal law already protects workers who don’t want to join a union to get or keep their jobs, and the law gives workers the right to opt out of a union. However, they must still pay union dues. RTW would give them the option of not paying dues while still enjoying the benefits of being in a union. Many unions, especially teachers unions, give employees an option where a member can opt out of union membership and they don't pay dues. They only pay a collective bargaining fee equal to the bargaining that's done for them. Workers in RTW states make an average of $5,900 less in annual salary, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. No site selection manger ever uses right to work for less as a criteria as a decision where it’s going to relocate. If they are looking for low wages they look to China and the Philippines, not South Carolina and Florida. We have to compete with a quality, educated workforce, and poverty and a lack of education are higher in right to work for less states.

“Angry, sometimes violent, union protests on our state Capitol lawn?” Angry yes, but the few cases of violence from the mostly peaceful but loud crowd of more than 13,000 were peaceful with the exception of two incidents incited by the few anti-worker stooges paid by the Kock brothers. Angry, yes, and I guess that’s why it took less than a week to pass this historic legislation with no committee hearings, no public input, behind locked doors and guarded by 400 heavily armed State Troopers.

I agree, “The symbolic importance of Michigan’s adoption of Freedom to Work legislation is not lost on us. Michigan is the birthplace of the UAW.” That’s why millions of dollars from the Kock brothers and Sheldon Adelson flowed into the state along with the millions from the DeVos fortune for this stealth fight.

This has nothing to do with freedom; it's about politics and eliminating a political foe. They know many people will decline to pay for something they get for free in this tight economy, and as less money is available for quality representation, it further weaken the union and leads to its demise; which is really the goal of this legislation. Free market? To form a union people risked their jobs, lives and limbs to from and required a majority form. That same majority can fire a union and decertify it at any time.

biped

Shame on you Meekhof! I didn't vote for you this election and will fight to keep you out of office in 2014.

zwesterhouse

Meekhof will get re-elected because the guy who runs against him will not get any campaign contributions. Meekhof will get over $250,000 in contributions again just like in his 2010 election. The voters will just slap him in again because they are BAITER's and acronym for Backstabbers, Abusers, Imposters, Takers, Exploiters, Reckless. Amanda Price will get re-elected too. She got $180,000 in contributions and the 7 other candidates who were darn good knowledgeable people got zilch! Meekhof has no integrity and does not experience shame. So there fore he is "electable" anyone else gets no media coverage or monies to run for office. Were all screwed!!!

 

Post a Comment

Log in to your account to post comments here and on other stories, galleries and polls. Share your thoughts and reply to comments posted by others. Don't have an account on GrandHavenTribune.com? Create a new account today to get started.