Today the Michigan legislature and governor are expected to turn Michigan into the nation’s 24th right-to-work state. The state’s new law does not change collective bargaining rights, but it does give workers the opportunity to decide for themselves whether to join a union or not. It also gives them control over their own money, by banning unions from skimming the paychecks of even non-union workers. Michigan’s reform is more modest than that which passed in Wisconsin, but it gets at a fundamental American right: The right to work without anyone forcing a worker to join a union, and the right to determine how one spends or keeps their own hard-earned money.
Big Labor is responding in the way it usually does, with threats and coercion, shut-downs and protests. Two Michigan school districts have shut down today, due to the high number of teachers who have sent in falsified sick notes so they could go to Lansing to protest the new law.
In most jobs, if you are caught lying to your employer regarding your failure to report to work, you are fired. But unionized teachers are all but impossible to fire. The two school districts are not even requiring the absent teachers to use their own personal time to attend the protests. The school districts, in Warren and Taylor, are treating the shut-down days as snow days. This is not fair to the students or to the taxpayers who pay those dishonest union teachers’ salaries.
In addition to shutting down schools, Big Labor is shipping protesters in from neighboring states. Many are coming in from Wisconsin, which went through its own turmoil when Gov. Scott Walker and the legislature enacted union reforms.
President Obama weighed in against the right-to-work law Monday, in the process mischaracterizing the new law entirely to demonize it. The fact is, a majority of Michigan’s citizens support the right-to-work law. President Obama never enjoyed majority support for his health care law, but he tried selling it as settled law that was passed with “strong majorities.” In his dishonest remarks regarding Michigan’s right-to-work law, Obama revealed that he is only pro-choice when it comes to abortion and government and unions having the power to choose for citizens. He does not believe that workers should have the right to choose whether to join a union, just as he believes Americans do not deserve the right to make their own health care choices.
Today’s passage of right-to-work could be Waterloo for Big Labor. That is why it is staging the raging protests. Union membership has dropped sharply in Michigan and around the rest of the nation in recent decades. Younger workers tend to avoid union membership. States like Texas prove that right-to-work works better for workers and the businesses that employ them, and for taxpayers. Unions made a poor choice when they became the fundraising engine of the Democratic Party, alienating Republican workers within their own ranks. In the 2012 election, government worker union AFSCME spent more than $100 million supporting leftist Democratic candidates, including about $20 million that went to supporting Obama’s re-election. That is taxpayer money being skimmed from worker paychecks and used to support partisan politics. SEIU, the union whose agenda Obama promised to carry into power, was close behind AFSMCE, spending $74 million supporting Obama and the Democrats. Unions spend almost exclusively supporting Democrats, despite the fact that about 40% of their members are Republicans.
Where right-to-work laws are in place, businesses tend to be healthier and unemployment tends to be lower. Michigan’s unemployment stands at 9.3% officially, more than a full point higher than the national average. Right-to-work could change that and bring business back to a state that has been driving business away.
And again, the people of Michigan elected their legislature and governor, and a majority of the state’s citizens support the right-to-work law. Big Labor has every right to protest peacefully, but the majority have the right to enact sensible laws that take politics and brute force out of workplaces, and may help bring business back to their state.
Update: Michigan’s Democrats are threatening blood in the wake of right-to-work becoming law in Michigan.
“We are going to undo 100 years of labor relations. And there will be blood. We will relive the Battle of the Overpass.” -Geiss #SaveMI
— MI House Democrats (@MIHouseDems) December 11, 2012
That violent tweet quotes Michigan House Democrat Douglas Geiss, and is on the official Michigan House Democrats’ Twitter feed. Geiss is from Taylor, the same city whose school board shut down the schools allowing teachers to protest the right-to-work law and is treating the shut-down as snow days.
Update: The MI Dems have apparently deleted the threatening tweet. But the Internet is indelible, and their violent “blood” threat stands as long as they fail to account for and apologize for it.
Update: The MI House has passed the right-to-work law, 58-51.