right to work

Stateside
4:31 pm
Thu March 28, 2013

Michiganders divided on right-to-work law

MSU Economist Charley Ballard
http://econ.msu.edu

Today, Michigan becomes the nation's 24th right-to-work state. It's the second in the Midwest, after Indiana.

The law was passed with much controversy and thousands of demonstrators packing in and around the state Capitol last December.

A new poll out today shows that Michiganders are deeply divided over the new law.

Michigan State University’s  “State of the State Survey” asked more than a thousand people whether they thought right-to-work would be good for Michigan’s economy.

42 percent said it would be good and 41 percent said it would be bad, while 16 percent said right-to-work would have no effect on Michigan’s economy.

Charley Ballard,  economist at MSU, directs the survey and he filled us in on what the percentages look like and what people really think about right-to-work.

Listen to the full interview above.

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Politics & Government
3:16 pm
Thu March 28, 2013

Snyder defends right to work, emergency managers at Detroit political breakfast

A protester outside the Panacakes and Politics breakfast with Governor Snyder in Detroit.
Credit Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Governor Snyder says Detroit and Michigan can’t afford to “look in the rear view mirror” when it comes to tackling problems.

The Governor spoke in Detroit Thursday, just just as two controversial laws he signed take effect.

Speaking at the Detroit Athletic Club’s “Pancakes and Politics” breakfast, Snyder addressed a crowd that included much of Detroit’s business and political elite—including the city’s new emergency manager, Kevyn Orr.

The new state law that gives Orr sweeping powers kicks in today. So does Michigan's right to work law.

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Politics & Government
11:35 am
Thu March 28, 2013

Poll finds Michiganders are divided on right-to-work law

Not surprisingly the new MSU 'State of the State Survey' shows a large majority of union members oppose the Right to Work law. But there is almost equal support for the law among non-union workers. (file photo)
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

A new poll shows Michiganders are deeply divided over the state’s new right-to-work law. The law takes effect today.

Under Michigan’s right-to-work law, workers can't be forced to join a union.

Michigan State University’s “State of the State Survey” asked more than a thousand people whether they thought Right to Work would be good for Michigan’s economy.

42.7 percent said it would be good.  41 percent said it would be bad.  16 percent said the right-to-work law would have no effect on Michigan’s economy.

Economist Charles Ballard is the survey’s director. He says right to work supporters tend to be overwhelmingly white, male, non-union conservatives, while opponents tend to be overwhelmingly minority, female, pro-union liberals.

“It doesn’t surprise me that the public is split. I think the public really is split and these survey results are a fairly accurate reflection of that,” says Ballard.

As an economist, Ballard thinks right-to-work will have little effect on Michigan’s economy.

“And on that basis, I’m thinking this issue probably will not go away,” says Ballard.

Michigan is the 24th state to adopt a right-to-work law.

Politics & Government
8:36 am
Thu March 28, 2013

Commentary: Intolerance

Lessenberry commentary for 3/28/13

Did you know there is actually still a Communist Party, USA? They even have a website, so that if, in the middle of the night, you are suddenly seized with a desire to join the party of Lenin and Stalin, why, you can get on line and whip out your credit card.

For $60 a year, you can be a Communist. Not only that, my guess is that if you do sign up, you won’t even lose your job or be visited by the FBI. That’s because the Communist Party today is no threat to anybody, and is, in fact, totally irrelevant.

That isn’t true of the Republican Party. Not yet, anyway. But increasingly, the GOP is beginning to behave like a wacky fringe party. They are offering positions way outside the mainstream. More and more, what one hears from Republican spokesmen is hatred and intolerance, and we got a good example yesterday.

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Politics & Government
8:30 am
Thu March 28, 2013

In this morning's news: Right to work, challenge to EM law, harbor dredging

User: Brother O'Mara flickr

Michigan's right to work law goes into effect

Michigan's right-to-work law, which says employees cannot be required to pay union dues or fees as a condition of employment, goes into effect today.

According to MPRN's Rick Pluta, there is still plenty of conflict over the new law.

"Some Republicans are threatening budget sanctions for public employers that have signed extended labor bargains that would delay the effects of the law. Labor groups plan to mark the day with protests and vigils, including one at the state Capitol. Governor Rick Snyder says he’s not concerned."

Opponents challenge EM law in federal court

Opponents to Michigan's new emergency manager law say it is unconstitutional and are challenging it in federal court.

“A lawsuit Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Detroit seeks an injunction to stop the law. It claims that the new law is similar to one that voters rejected in November, and violates the collective bargaining rights of workers," the Associated Press reports.

Governor Snyder approves harbor dredging after record low water levels

"Governor Rick Snyder says he expects almost 60 Michigan harbors to be dredged in time for the summer boating season. He approved more than $20 million for the projects yesterday," reports Michigan Radio's Jake Neher.

Law
7:50 am
Thu March 28, 2013

Right-to-work law takes effect in Michigan

Thousands of union members protested last December as the Michigan Legislature passed Right to Work legislation (file photo)
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

DETROIT (AP) - Michigan workers can choose not to financially support unions that bargain on their behalf under a right-to-work law now in effect.

The measure that took effect at midnight will apply to labor contracts that are extended or renewed after Wednesday. Many unionized employees won't be affected for months or years.

Union organizers are asking people to wear red Thursday to protest Michigan becoming the 24th right-to-work state - a once-unthinkable change in a place where organized labor has played a central role.

Supporters plan to celebrate the law's passage.

Republican Gov. Rick Snyder is expected to see protesters at unrelated events in Detroit. He said Wednesday the continued political fighting, lawsuits and protests over right to work are "part of democracy" and he appreciates that "change is difficult for people."

Politics & Government
9:00 am
Sat March 23, 2013

The week in review: Medicaid, health care exchange, right to work, more Detroit corruption

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Week in review interview

This “week in review” Rina Miller and Jack Lessenberry discuss a state house subcommittee’s rejection to expand Medicaid, how Michigan will be run under a federal health exchange, how universities are going under scrutiny for negotiating new, long term contracts before Michigan’s right to work law goes into effect, and how a city pension attorney in Detroit and a former trustee were indicted for bribery.

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Politics & Government
11:54 am
Thu March 21, 2013

Washtenaw County approves 10-year union contract ahead of right-to-work

The Washtenaw County building in downtown Ann Arbor.
ArborWiki.org

Add Washtenaw County to the list of public schools, universities, and governments approving new union contracts ahead of the March 28 right-to-work deadline.

AnnArbor.com's Amy Biolchini has more on the contracts approved last night:

In an unprecedented chain of events, the Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners approved 10-year-long contracts with five of its unions Wednesday night one week before Michigan's new right-to-work law takes effect.

In exchange for the extended time frame, the unions agreed to changes in employee contributions to retirement and health care benefits for workers hired in 2014.

Biolchini reports the new contracts include wage increases and reductions in 'legacy costs' for the county. 

The 10-year contracts keep in place the requirement that employees pay union dues or fees as a condition of their employment with the county.

Such terms would be illegal after Michigan's right-to-work law goes into effect next week.

The Legislature is thinking of punishing some state universities that negotiate contracts they see as circumventing the new law.

Politics & Government
11:34 am
Wed March 20, 2013

Commentary: Punishing the students

Lessenberry commentary for 3/20/13

Today I am going to talk about something in which I could be accused of having a conflict of interest. Normally, we try not to do that, and if it were only something affecting me, I wouldn’t. But the people really being threatened here are thousands of young people in Michigan, and the state‘s future.

I am talking about a vote yesterday in a state house of representatives subcommittee designed to punish schools and universities who agree to contracts with their faculty and staff that lawmakers don’t like for ideological reasons. This has to do with the anti-union, right to work legislation that was rammed through a lame-duck session of the legislature last December. This bill doesn’t take effect until eight days from how, so technically Michigan is not a right to work state yet.

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Politics & Government
8:34 am
Wed March 20, 2013

The week in Michigan politics: The EM for Detroit, Blue Cross overhaul, right to work

Shawn Wilson wikimedia

Week in Michigan politics interview

This week in Michigan politics, Christina Shockley and Jack Lessenberry discuss what's ahead for Kevyn Orr, the soon to be emergency manager for Detroit. They also talk about how some universities might face cuts after renegotiating labor contracts before the right to work law goes into effect later this month, and how the Blue Cross Blue Shield overhaul will affect the majority of Michiganders in the state.

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Politics & Government
8:28 am
Wed March 20, 2013

In this morning's news: right to work, health care exchange, possible EM for Lansing

User: Brother O'Mara flickr

Universities might take cut after skirting around new right to work law

"Some Michigan universities could lose 15-percent of their state funding over new union contracts. A state budget panel Tuesday voted to sanction schools that approve long-term contracts before the state’s new right-to-work law takes effect. That’s unless the contracts include cost savings of at least 10 percent," Jake Neher reports.

Health care exchange deadline Friday

The state has until Friday to come up with a plan on how to shop for health insurance online as part of the Affordable Care Act. As the Detroit Free Press reports,

"If the [health exchange bill] doesn't pass this week, it will end up solely in the federal government's hands. Gov. Rick Snyder has urged the Legislature to pass the health exchange bill as a way for the state to have input on how the exchange will run and which insurance companies appear on the exchange."

Govenor Snyder hopes Lansing will not need an EM

Governor Rick Snyder says he wants to prevent the city of Lansing from getting an emergency manager. Lansing faces a projected $9 million budget shortfall next year. According to MLive, the governor talked about the future financial situation of the city at the Lansing Regional Camber of Commerce's legislative dinner last night,

“If the city of Lansing wants to be proactive and talk about a consent agreement, I want to be a good partner.”

A consent agreement is the intermediate step between emergency management of a troubled municipality’s finances and complete local control.

Politics & Government
12:31 pm
Tue March 19, 2013

House subcommittee votes to punish public universities for new contracts

On a 4-3 party-line vote, a Michigan House Appropriations subcommittee voted to punish universities the Republicans believe are trying to avoid the state's new right-to-work law.

That law goes into effect on March 28th.

Wayne State University and the University of Michigan have struck contracts with their unions ahead of that deadline.

Public universities that signed new contracts or contract extensions that did not achieve at least a 10 percent savings would face a 15 percent cut in state funding under a budget bill approved this morning.

Politics & Government
12:01 pm
Sun March 17, 2013

Lansing school teachers reach tentative contract with school district

Lansing's Sexton High School (file photo)
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

The Lansing School District has reached a tentative contract agreement with its teachers union.

No details have been released. So it’s unclear whether the deal includes a provision to get around Michigan’s new Right to Work law. 

Lansing teachers’ tentative agreement comes at a time when other unions are racing to put contract extensions into place before Michigan’s new Right to Work law takes effect.

A handful of school districts and Wayne State University have signed extended contracts that would allow the unions to continue to enforce mandatory dues collection. 

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Politics & Government
8:38 am
Wed March 13, 2013

What's going on this week? Kilpatrick guilty, Detroit argues against EM, right to work deadline

The Capitol in Lansing.
Lester Graham Michigan Radio

Week in Michigan politics interview for 3/13/13

This week in Michigan politics, Jack Lessenberry and Christina Shockley discuss the trial of former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, the debate between the Detroit City Council and Governor Snyder over an impending emergency manager appointment in Detroit, and how unions are trying to get new contracts in place before the new right to work law takes affect later this month.

To hear their discussion, click on the audio above.

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Politics & Government
5:14 pm
Tue March 12, 2013

For Saginaw County, no running around right-to-work law

The county's worried about retaliation from Republicans
dannybirchall flickr

Unions are rushing to sign contracts before Michigan's right to work law takes effect this month.

But one county is worried Republicans might retaliate.

In Saginaw County, the biggest public union wants to get a 10-year contract signed ASAP.

If that happens before March 28th, it can still require workers to pay for union dues – which will be illegal under the new law.

But county officials say they’re afraid Republicans will yank state dollars from the county as retribution.

County commissioner Michael Hanley says that’s a risk they just can’t take

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Education
3:10 pm
Tue March 12, 2013

WSU President: Contract good for school, Michigan

Governor Snyder's budget calls for further cuts to public universities.
user dig downtown detroit Flickr

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - The president of Wayne State University is urging lawmakers not to limit the university's state aid for approving an eight-yearlong contract with the faculty union.

Allan Gilmour asked the House Higher Education Appropriations Subcommittee on Tuesday to "think beyond this contract and consider the whole university" when making appropriations.

Some Republican lawmakers have questioned the lengthy contract agreement made just before the contentious right-to-work law goes into effect March 28.

Republican Rep. Al Pscholka of Stevensville has proposed that that no university get a funding increase in the next budget if it signs a contract extension or renewal before March 28 - unless the contract guarantees at least 10 percent savings in labor costs.

Gilmour says longer contracts "provide a sense of stability for planning, for budgets and personnel."

Politics & Government
6:46 pm
Fri March 8, 2013

Lawmaker calls out schools for skirting new right-to-work law, few answer

State Rep. Tom McMillin (R-Rochester Hills) wants schools to explain recent contract negotiations.
House Republicans

A Republican state lawmaker wants school officials to justify employee contracts that could be used to skirt Michigan’s new right-to-work law.

The right-to-work law takes effect March 28. It allows workers to opt out of paying union dues and fees, but it cannot supersede existing contracts.

School officials in some Michigan districts have negotiated concessions with unions in exchange for dues arrangements that last as long as 10 years.

Schools have used the negotiations to get concessions on salaries and work rules.

State Representative Tom McMillin (R-Rochester Hills) is calling school officials before his oversight committee.

He says he wants them to prove taxpayers are getting their money’s worth out of the contracts.

He just called officials from Warren Consolidated Schools before his committee for a hearing in two weeks, but he cannot compel anyone to show up.

Earlier Taylor school officials declined to appear.

Wayne State University has yet to answer his request to have officials come before his committee to explain its employee contracts.

Law
11:14 am
Mon February 18, 2013

Unions seek contracts ahead of new Michigan law

Unions race to get contracts approved.
dannybirchall/flickr

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Some unions in Michigan are working to get new contracts approved before the state's right-to-work law takes effect next month to delay when they'll be affected by changes.

The Detroit News reports some see it as an effort to keep collecting dues from members until after a new contract expires. Union leaders representing teachers in Utica, Plymouth-Canton, Dearborn and Detroit school districts all are working toward new agreements.

The Lansing State Journal reports unions at Michigan State University and Lansing Community College are exploring the possibility of extending their labor contracts to delay the law's impact on them.

The law, passed last year, takes effect March 27. It prohibits requiring workers to pay union dues or fees, but contracts in place before that date are immune from the new rules.

Politics & Government
9:00 am
Sat February 16, 2013

The week in review

David Defoe flickr

Week in review interview for 2/16/13

This week in review Rina Miller and Jack Lessenberry discuss Detroit’s State of the City address, lawmakers conversation about abortions and Viagra coverage in Senate health plans, and the removal of Pure Michigan right to work ads.

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Politics & Government
8:42 am
Wed February 13, 2013

The week in Michigan politics

Matthileo Flickr

Week in Michigan politics interview

In this week in Michigan politics, Michigan Radio’s Christina Shockley and Jack Lessenberry discuss the possibility for an emergency manager for Detroit, lawsuits against the state’s right to work law and funding for dredging the Great Lakes.

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