Lansing, MI — Both chambers of the Michigan’s Republican-controlled legislature approved bills late yesterday that would make paying union dues voluntary in both public and private sector employment. The legislation comes after organized labor and the Democrats failed in the November election to convince Michigan voters through Proposition 2 to amend the state constitution to make collective bargaining permanent.
Although there are several procedural hurdles, the law — which exempts police and firefighters — could be finalized as early as Tuesday.
Governor Rick Snyder, the Republican who ran for office as “one tough nerd,” was originally lukewarm toward the union dues reform measure, according to the Detroit News:
“Snyder has long said right-to-work legislation hasn’t been on his agenda, but he changed his view because of Indiana’s February passage of a right-to-work law and increased political pressure to pass the bill in the Legislature’s lame-duck session.
” “Workers should have freedom to choose who they associate with,’ Snyder said.”
Union protestors descended on the state capitol in Lansing during the deliberations, and chaos occurred similar to when Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and his legislative allies passed collective bargaining reform in that state.
The Detroit News and the National Review (see below) observe that Michigan was the birthplace of the modern-day labor movement. Obviously unions did good things back in the day, and this legislation leaves unions in place — it just modifies the dues collection procedures.
In contemporary America, government-sector unions are pushing states and municipalities to the brink of bankruptcy or beyond because of out-of-control salaries, pensions, and other benefits. The city of Detroit itself is on the verge of bankruptcy. Some private firms have been forced out of business because of union contracts. Through mandatory dues, politicized unions have also become what amounts to an ATM machine for the Democrats.
John Fund of National Review Online explains the implications of Michigan’s new right-to-work law:
“Michigan, the birthplace of the union movement, has done the unthinkable. Last night, both houses of the legislature passed legislation that will make Michigan the 24th state with a right-to-work law. That means both public- and private-sector employees would no longer have to pay mandatory dues in order to keep a job in a union shop. Governor Rick Snyder, who has quietly tried to prevent GOP legislators from taking on this ‘divisive’ issue, has nonetheless said he will sign the bill if it reaches his desk — most likely next Tuesday.
” ‘They regard right-to-work as the single biggest step that the state needs to take to break the chokehold of unions and bring manufacturers back to the state,’ writes Shikha Dalmia of Reason magazine. ‘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.’ “
Are you pro choice when it comes to union dues? Do you think right-to-work laws help states bring jobs back?
[Image credit: Subterranean]