Michigan, the next right-to-work state?

posted at 5:31 pm on December 6, 2012 by Erika Johnsen

The Republican majority in the Michigan legislature is using their lame-duck to make moves on joining the ranks of the 23 already right-to-work states by passing measures that would put an end to mandatory dues in union shops in both the private and public sector. Through the first two years of his tenure, Republican Gov. Rick Snyder maintained that right-to-work legislation wouldn’t be a priority for him (the union-rights ruckus in Wisconsin not so long ago provides some hint as to why), but the Michigan legislature decided to press forward and Snyder said today that he isn’t going to veto the legislation if it comes to his desk:

Republican Governor Rick Snyder said the legislation would cover the public and private sectors, with exemptions for police and firefighters, and he hoped it would be passed before lawmakers adjourn for the holidays.

“Quite often people call it right-to-work, but I think it is a much better description to say that this is about fairness in the workplace and equality in the workplace,” Snyder said.

Snyder said he was asking for an act to be passed promptly and he would sign it when it arrived on his desk.

This would be quite the setback for the influence of the many unions in the Rust-Belt regions; Michigan happens to be the home of the United Auto Workers, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, and smaller unions part of the AFL-CIO. As you can probably imagine, the unions were not at all pleased with today’s legislative goings-on… to say the least:

Thousands of people protested “right-to-work” legislation in and around Michigan’s Capitol in Lansing, leading authorities to block entrance to the building, police said Thursday.

Adamczyk said “a couple of thousand people” were inside the Capitol and 1,000 to 2,000 or more were in the area.

One of the troopers used pepper spray against a protester who was among a group attempting to rush the state Senate chambers, Adamczyk said.

MSP spokeswoman Shannon Banner said eight people were taken into custody and face potential charges of assault and/or disobeying a lawful order from state police.

Yikes. As I noted after the election, we’re looking at another four years of President Obama and it’s not going to be easy for conservatives to accomplish much at the federal level for awhile; what the Republican governors do with their platforms and the examples they set in their states are going to make for some mightily important battles in the time to come. Says Shikha Dalmia over at Reason:

My own hunch? Right to Work is to Michigan Republicans now what ObamaCare was to Congressional Democrats three years ago. They regard this as the single biggest step that the state needs to take to break the chokehold of unions and bring manufacturers back to the state. (Not a single foreign automaker, with the exception of a Mazda plant in Flat Rock that later got bought by Ford, has ever opened a factory in Michigan even though its highly trained auto workforce, one would think, gives it a natural advantage.) If Michigan joins Indiana and many of its southern competitors in becoming an RTW state, it will give an instant shot in the arm to its moribund economy. And the political stars are never going to be aligned better so they’ll be damned if they don’t get it done. So, I think, Snyder is going to continue to press them to back off – and they are going to continue to refuse. And ultimately he’ll have to go along or completely lose credibility in the party.


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