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Michigan Legislature Passes Right-to-Work Bill Supported by Gov. Snyder

The bill passed 58-52 in the House, and 22-16 in the Senate after a call to action from the governor on Thursday.

Following Gov. Rick Snyder's call to action Thursday, the Michigan Legislature passed a right-to-work bill amid throngs of protesters on the Capitol lawn.

The bill prohibits unions from collecting fees from nonunion workers, which opponents say would weaken organized labor’s ability to bargain for good wages while supporters say it would boost jobs.

In a new Pure Michigan ad published Thursday on YouTube, Snyder says his decision to pursue such legislation is "about being pro-work and giving workers the freedom to choose who they associate with."

"We respect the fact that the freedom-to-work issue evokes strong emotions among supporters and opponents,” Snyder said during a press conference. “That’s why we’ve focused on other reforms that are so critical to Michigan’s turnaround. But with this issue now on the table, it’s time to embrace the benefits that come with giving working men and women the freedom they deserve. The values of freedom, fairness and equality in the workplace should unite us all. And as states fiercely compete for jobs, this legislation will ensure that investors know Michigan is the place to do business.” 

Although this legislation would cover both the public and private sectors, there would be an exception for police and firefighters.

Joe Romeo, president of the Dexter Education Association, said the bill is an attempt to drive wages down among union employees.

"My perspective as an educator is that the states that have a right-to-work program are the lowest achieving states educationally," he said. "This bill does not consider the consequences to kids; states with the lowest wages have the worst teachers and the worst performance test scores."

The Michigan Laborers Union said that the bill is a "money grab" on the backs of the middle class.

"Michigan has real challenges, and this won’t do anything to help create jobs or rebuild our economy,” Jonathan Byrd of the Michigan Laborers said in a written statement. “There are too many questions that need to be answered before we push so-called right-to-work legislation. Politicians need to roll up their sleeves and get to work for Michigan’s working families.

"Let’s focus on rebuilding Michigan together, instead of tearing apart the rights that protect middle class families who built our state," Byrd said.

The Washtenaw County Democratic Party also denounced the legislation.

"Though Republicans keep trying to frame the issue as an issue of choice, everyone can see through their deceit that this is a blatant attack and political payback against worker unions,” Lonnie Scott, WCDP vice chairman for communications said.  “There is no proof that right-to-work laws produce any jobs or will help the Michigan economy, what it will help is to line the pockets of CEO’s at the expense of middle class workers.”

State Rep. Mark Ouimet, R-Scio Township, released a statement Thursday in support of House Bill 4054.

"This is truly an historic reform in Michigan where all workers will be given the freedom to choose whether to join a union, without having the decision jeopardize their ability to make a living. It's a pro-worker measure that will encourage equality and individual freedom," Ouimet said.

"No one should be forced to join a union or pay dues to an organization they don’t support. It's un-American and anti-worker. The people of Michigan should be able to seek jobs without being forced to have union dues deducted from their paychecks. This important reform is about individual freedom and making Michigan more competitive so we can attract new jobs and economic development."

The bill passed 58-52 in the House, and 22-16 in the Senate.

Real Life December 07, 2012 at 03:35 AM
Hooray! Maybe Michigan can be the Motor Capital again!
Joe Scheuring December 07, 2012 at 03:01 PM
Its about time that the erosion of individual freedoms begin to come to a halt. Right to work is about the individual's right to choose. Perhaps unions will begin to be more representative of their members and work on their behalf rather than many of the other priorities they have. If they do a good job of working for their people they will sustain and attrach members who are willing to pay for the service they provide.
Dexter resident December 07, 2012 at 05:19 PM
This is good for Michigan!
John Harris December 07, 2012 at 06:31 PM
I wold challenge ANYONE to provide evidence ANYTHING Synder has done, has helped produce a SINGLE job. He started with his Big Business Kick-Back, on the backs of Seniors, NOW this slap-in-the-face to working families? His attack on seniors helped Michigan make the list as the absolutely WORST state in the US to retire. With this low-wage push, he's helping make it the worst place to find a job, with a middle-class wage, and raise a family. Thanks Snyder!
Jim Vollmers December 07, 2012 at 06:32 PM
Other states that have a RTW law in place offer lower wages and fewer benefits for it's workers. A report by the Economic Policy Institute found that wages in those states for all workers are 3.2% lower than in non-right-to-work states. Unions are the main reason why we have a vibrant middle class. This is a step in the wrong direction.
John Harris December 07, 2012 at 06:50 PM
Here's what this will REALLY produce... Within a few short years, total wages earned by Michigan workers will decline, adjusted for inflation and in comparison to other states. Why? It will lower wages of existing jobs, and will not produce enough additional work to offset this change. Not only is the BAD for working families, it will damage the tax base, reducing funds for all services, including higher education, which attracts higher paying jobs. This policy is a RACE TO THE BOTTOM.
Susie Catherman December 07, 2012 at 06:53 PM
To say that this is about "right to choose" does not have a clue about what it means. NO ONE CAN BE FORCED TO JOIN A UNION. It's illegal. Get your facts straight. Now these people who don't want to pay dues will get all the PROTECTION and benefits for nothing. Hmmmm, sounds like the population of people that Romney/Ryan referred to: "The freeloaders." Think about it. Snyder and his whipping boy Ouimet are both nothing less than BOLD FACE LIARS.
Ed Rehfeld December 07, 2012 at 09:40 PM
So-called “right to work” laws are really “right-to-pay-less” and “right-to-freeload” laws. Here’s why. All workers covered by a union’s collective bargaining agreement enjoy the wages, benefits, and working conditions that the union has negotiated, regardless of whether they support the union. The union cannot treat workers in the bargaining unit who do pay union dues differently than workers in the bargaining unit who do not; it must bargain for and protect all workers in the bargaining unit equally. “Right-to-work” laws give workers enjoying these benefits and protections the right to choose whether to pay for them. This is fundamentally unfair; not just to the local union, but to the workers themselves, because they lose bargaining power with the employer. That’s why workers in “right-to-work” states tend to make less than both union and non-union workers in states without such laws. Political and corporate leaders who support these laws are very cynically appealing to individual liberty to foster an anti-worker environment where businesses can pay less than a fair wage, retaliate against workers, set unsafe or sub-par working conditions, and in other ways deprive workers the competitive wages, benefits, and working conditions they have earned and deserve. Don't fall for it.
Allison December 08, 2012 at 02:15 PM
@Susie Catherman - the unions DO force workers into them, and it was supported by Governer Granholm. A few years ago under Granholm, daycare providers caring for children receiving government subsidies were forced to pay union dues - it came out of their checks before they even got them. The law might have been changed by now, but they have forced themselves into working families pockets before without consent. You are right - it IS unconstitutional! This levels the playing field a bit so that unions don't take advantage of the very people they are trying to help.
Joe Scheuring December 08, 2012 at 07:54 PM
You are right to say that no one can be forced to join a union. But you left out the part about only if you want to work at a that place that has a union. As a high school student many years ago I had a part time job at a grocery store. In order to work there I had to join a union and pay initiation dues as well as dues each month. This was as a part time high school employee. I moved to another city in the state when I began college and applied for a part time job at another grocery store. After I hired in I was told that I not only would have to pay union dues but I would also have to pay another initiation fee to the same union I had already belonged to in my previous job. Because I would not pay my fees twice I was not allowed to work even part time when I was not in college.
William Farley December 09, 2012 at 03:15 AM
It is my understanding that 70% of the US economy is driven by consumers. Who are consumers? I guess mostly workers. When wages, benefits and jobs are reduced and taxes businesses pay are reduced increasing the load on consumers, this forced climate that is to promote business to come to a state will not work. These pro business policies hurt business because those policies hurt their customers. I have heard CEO after CEO say if there was more demand they would hire more workers regardless of the local business environment. It is time for Synder and those in Lansing to shift gears away from taking from customers to concentrating on how to create demand. Doing the things to make consumers confident, and optimistic and feel that laws are being changed to give them fair value for their spending and savings is what is needed, not more attacks on workers. Its all about demand!
Trevor Carlson December 11, 2012 at 05:55 AM
chicken or the egg. where does wealth come from? ... answer- neither, they need each other to survive. Our President is amazingly good at pitting this nation against itself while he works in the background and with little fanfare doing things the majority would not condone if we weren't already too busy ripping at each others throats.
Trevor Carlson December 11, 2012 at 05:58 AM
Is it just me or have other people noticed that unions encourage a culture of entitlement whereby the members are never happy regardless of the compensation package?
Trevor Carlson December 11, 2012 at 06:03 AM
It is my understanding that 87% of reported statistics misrepresent the facts due to selective filtering of the data points and editorial comments.
Trevor Carlson December 11, 2012 at 06:13 AM
What's wrong with the right to be paid less? Its often better to be paid less than not have a job or have a job with wages garnished lining the silver pockets of union leadership. So what ig this will set up a race to the bottom? Then the unions should be cheering because that means they will have a real purpose where people will seek them out instead of avoid them. Companies with poor wages will have difficulty keeping qualified, quality employees and companies with great compensation will see higher loyalty and long term profitability.

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