If you’ve been sleeping under a rock, Michigan — a heavily unionized state — is about to become the next state to adopt right-to-work laws:
LANSING, Mich. — Michigan, considered the birthplace of the American organized labor movement, was on a fast track Thursday to becoming the nation’s 24th right-to-work state after the state House and Senate approved bills as part of a package to pass the law.
Labor and Democrats were pushing back hard against the Workplace Fairness and Equity Act, but the efforts seemed futile as the controversial measures moved like greased lightning — and without going through committees or public debate — and could land on Gov. Rick Snyder’s desk by next week.
The debate raged across Michigan, and the country, as to whether the legislation would do what proponents say, bring fairness to workers and spark economic growth; or do as opponents claim, lower wages and benefits and destroy the middle class.
“The goal isn’t to divide Michigan, it is to bring Michigan together,” said the governor, who previously had said the issue was not on his agenda.
It should be noted that the law exempts police and firefighter unions, who are perhaps the most powerful unions of all (next to teachers, who from my understanding are not exempt), and also exempts current contracts. The latter doesn’t bother me; those contracts will eventually expire and be up for grabs later. The former does; caving into the police and firefighter unions sets a bad precedent. However, I don’t think it will be a problem in the short run.
The Detroit Free Press does a decent job explaining the law:
Right-to-work legislation makes it illegal to require financial support of a union as a condition of employment. Snyder and Republican leaders characterized the bills as giving workers a choice . Democrats said the initiative is about union-busting and retribution for Proposal 2, a failed Nov. 6 labor-backed ballot initiative that would have barred a right-to-work law and enshrined collective bargaining in the state constitution.
The bills cover all public and private workers, except police and firefighters, who would be allowed to maintain closed union shops.
All it does is allow workers whether they want to be part of a union or not. That many are forced, by law, to join a union in order to hold a job should offend Americans everywhere. It’s slavery. Yet there are still those stomping their feet in order to keep the status quo. You have to wonder just why people are afraid of choice so darn much.
I mean really, is the freedom of choice such a terrible thing?
For more on how forced collective bargaining agreements infringe on rights, check out this 2011 piece by Mish Shedlock.