Right to Work? Wrong for You. ALL OF YOU.

'Right to Work' is wrong for every one of you. Here's why:

17.5% of the Michigan workforce belongs to a union.  That means you probably don't belong to one. If that's the case, I bet you're wondering what all the hubbub is about in Lansing over all this "right to work" (RTW) stuff.

If you've not paid attention to any of this, or have chosen not to, I don't blame you.  The politics behind it all is really disgusting.

I watched it from the state Senate Gallery on Wednesday night and all day on Thursday.  I watched the political calculations being made by conservative Republicans, who saw Proposal 2's defeat as an excuse to try to stick it to all working people in the state.  I heard Dick DeVos has been working hard on the Republican leadership behind the scenes.  I also heard about the way his wife, Betsy, has walked into Republican meetings and threatened to run extremist types against any sensible GOP legislators who didn't like the radical direction the party is currently on.  The Koch Brothers' "Americans for Prosperity" bussed in a rent-a-mob on Wednesday to push for RTW.  As I write this from the state Capitol, with at least 1000 hard-working blue collar people screaming things like, "What Does Democracy Look Like?  THIS IS WHAT DEMOCRACY LOOKS LIKE!"  I witnessed an attempt to pack pro-RTW people into the gallery, and squeeze the rest of us out.

Why was there such a determined effort to pass something so controversial, so unpopular, and so harmful to the state?

For one thing, Republicans don't have much time to do it before most of their majority in the state House evaporates.  The ones who have been shown the door by the voters last month have no trouble voting for something this harmful.  They have nothing to lose.  You do.

Another reason is money.  Every dollar that employers take from the 99% of us is a dollar diverted from the economy and into the pockets of the 1%.  They don't spend like the rest of us, and it doesn't lead to as much growth as when we all spend money, because 99% of us spread it out a lot farther than the 1% can.

If RTW gets signed by the Governor, you'll end up with less to put into the economy, union and nonunion members alike.  Small businesses will suffer.  They won't be able to expand, or hire as many workers.  Good paying jobs will be harder to find.  Michigan will go the way of Indiana, as well as the other RTW states, where all of this has already happened.

Those mouthpieces of the Koch brothers and DeVoses have proclaimed that the opposite will happen--that we'll have a flood of jobs and economic prosperity  into the state if we pass what they call "Freedom to Work."  The result will be "Freedom to Freeload," as non-unionized workers reap the same benefits that dues-paying union members get for them.  Then, when contract negotiations happen in places that embrace RTW, we'll start to see "Freedom to Work For Less Than Ever Before," where employers try to play union groups off the nonunion ones.  If they succeed, everyone's wages get pushed downward.

They've also said that they support collective bargaining, since they heard that 70% of you do too.  What a joke!  They've passed a slew of bills that hurt public-sector employees, stack the deck in favor of management, and otherwise
make it incredibly difficult for public-sector unions to secure a fair deal.  Now, they want to spread the damage to the private sector.

If I had my way, we'd all be in unions, the rules would be equally fair for labor and management, and we'd all be better off.  Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville said that on Thursday, minus the 'fair' part.  Too bad his party's RTW delusion, paid for by billionaires, seeks to undermine it all.  He even refused to have the bill named after him, when Democrats offered an amendment to do so.  Go figure...

RTW is great for the 1%, but it's horrible policy for you.  Yes, I mean YOU.  I'd ask you to contact your legislator and oppose all this, but the Republican majority in the Legislature ran it through in one day, with no real time to discuss the mess they just made.  No committee hearings, no usual careful consideration, no nothing.  Democrats in the Senate thundered against all this for hours.  They said a lot of what I wrote here, and so much more...to no avail.

Governor Snyder plans to sign this travesty on or after Tuesday, having made the excuse that this wouldn't have happened if Proposal 2 hadn't been attempted.  I'll remember that in 2014, when everyone who supported RTW are up for re-election.  I hope you do too.



Mark Hoffman

District Director

Trenton Education Association, MEA/NEA

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Dale Murrish December 17, 2012 at 06:53 PM
39% of public sector employees belong to a union. What about the 26,000 Michigan students who sat home while their teachers called in sick? Seems like they were more interested in their union representation than serving the needs of their customers: the students and their parents. Public sector union membership has increased, as teachers and other government workers fight to keep their right to organize. States like Wisconsin have survived bitter fights against conservative governors who try to limit their power. As their policies have taken effect, the voters kept Governor Walker by a larger margin than he won by in the first place. Let’s hope Michigan learns from Wisconsin’s recent troubles and its own past decades of suffering and has a more civil transition to a new era of growth. It looks like Michigan may only have a week of loud protests instead of the months suffered by Wisconsin. http://troy.patch.com/blog_posts/public-sector-unions-the-next-budget-challenge
Dale Murrish December 17, 2012 at 06:56 PM
Actually, the MEA is fighting to keep their right to maintain their monopoly over education, fighting charter schools, vouchers, private schools, home schooling and every other parental choice initiative that threatens their government school monopoly.
Harry Pelham December 18, 2012 at 04:05 AM
Boo Hoo can't believe all yo Union Folks up their in Michigan got all yo panties all up in a bunch about this here so-called Boogey Man called Right to Work? In the end most of yo folks both Union and Non-Union will hardly notice any change what so ever! The Big Union Bosses are all stirred up because Right to Work will finally force them to prove their worth to their respective Rank & File Members! Think for yourself for once, if my Union is providing me with a FAIR Union Contract that provides me with Above Market wages & benefits and is representing me properly with my employer! Am I NOT going too choose to pay my monthly Union Dues if I am satisified with the wages benefits and representation my Union is providing? I DON'T THINK SO! Oh sure there are going to be a few Free-loaders but so few that they wouldn't amount to a hill of beans. Plus I have read in other Right to Work State's in Union Place's of Employment the Union publish a list of this Free-loaders every month who have refused to pay their Union Dues or Join the Union! A lot of FUN that would be where the vast majority of my fellow workers don't talk to or choose to associate with me????
Harry Pelham December 18, 2012 at 04:09 AM
Personally I would find it quite offensive too have a University Degree consider myself to be a Professional Educator yet need some Union Goon's to dictate my entire career from the day I left University up until the very day I retired!!!
Mark Hoffman December 18, 2012 at 12:06 PM
Hi Dale! 'A new era of growth?' I've got a hard time buying into the notion that a slew of low paying employers entering the state is going to usher in an economic recovery--and that's only assuming RTW works as advertised. Usually, it doesn't, as there's no real connection between RTW and job growth. There is, however, a connection between RTW states and low-paying jobs. When you consider that the state is also trying hard to dismantle the single most important engine for long-term economic growth and high paying jobs--a strong public education system--I think it's fair to say that current policies will take us down, not up.


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