Dec 12 2012
Michigan governor Rick Snyder yesterday evening signed a pair of bills into law making union dues voluntary for all private sector and most public sector unions. The laws, being referred to as “right-to-work” bills, are seen by unions and their members as severely undermining the power of unions. Republicans, who led the effort, and Governor Snyder himself, claim the legislation is “pro-worker.”
An estimated 12,000 workers protested yesterday on the city streets of Lansing, Michigan amidst snow flurries and chants of “Kill the bill,” as the Republican-majority state House gave final approval on the bills. The state Senate had already passed them earlier.
Snyder promoted the bill by pointing to the large number of businesses relocating to Indiana after similar laws passed there in February. However, the Economic Policy Institute finds that, “neither the Governor nor Indiana officials have been able to provide evidence that right to work was the determinative factor in even a single company’s decision to locate in the state.”
Yesterday’s vote was rushed in on the coat-tails of the November elections, with Republicans frightened at the prospect of a newly elected legislature taking their seats in January, which could prevent the GOP majority from having the necessary votes to pass the bill. The bill is designed to resist any repeal by popular referendum. However some reports suggest that it will still be possible to put the issue to a vote in 2014.
Michigan becomes the 24th state to have such a law in place. But it is also the state with one of the highest rates of unionization in the country, being home to the highly unionized auto industry.
GUEST: Amanda Terkel, Senior Political Reporter and Politics Managing Editor at The Huffington Post
Click here to read Amanda Terkel’s writings on the Huffington Post.