right to work

State union leaders say lawmakers should focus on creating more jobs in Michigan with more support for education and public services. And they say lawmakers should not try to make Michigan a right-to-work state.

Karla Swift is president of the Michigan chapter of AFL-CIO. She says most people in Michigan still support unions and collective bargaining rights, and would not want Michigan to be a right-to-work state. And she says Governor Rick Snyder has signaled he does not favor a right-to-work law, either.

“The governor’s made his position clear that he wants to do the work of rebuilding Michigan’s economy and creating jobs, and not spend time on right-to-work," Swift says.

Swift says right-to-work laws have not proven effective in many states with high unemployment rates. Supporters of right-to-work say it would help Michigan attract new businesses.

Michigan Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville, R-Monroe.
Photo courtesy of Richardville's office

Republican leaders in the state Legislature say they will not be quick to spend any potential surplus money left over from the last budget year. An annual conference to determine how much money the state will have to spend this year is scheduled for Friday. A few hundred million dollars in additional revenue is expected to be available for lawmakers to spend on state-funded programs.

Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville says special interest groups and advocates won’t get far if they ask him for more funding. “It doesn’t matter to me if they ask or not. You know, we’ve all been about financial responsibility from the beginning, and I think the reason you have emergency financial managers, the reason the president of the United States is trying to figure out ways to print new money is because we haven’t been financially responsible in the past," Richardville says.

Richardville says the Legislature was smart last year by adding to the state’s rainy day fund and helping to pay off long-term debts. Some Democratic lawmakers say a priority for surplus revenue should be to fill cuts to K-12 schools and higher education.

Meanwhile, Richardville also says he does not think Michigan should be a right-to-work state. He says he does not think eliminating the requirement that some workers pay union dues would help the business climate in Michigan.

“I believe any economic benefits that are talked about with regard to bringing jobs into Michigan are overstated quite a bit because the jobs that we’re trying to attract in Michigan aren’t the lower-level jobs that right-to-work might address," Richardville says.

Governor Rick Snyder has also said he thinks a debate over right-to-work would be divisive. Supporters of right-to-work legislation say Michigan could lose business and jobs to neighboring states if they adopt similar measures.

Rick Pluta / Michigan Radio

Governor Rick Snyder today  renewed his opposition to the Legislature taking up a controversial right-to-work measure. The governor says the issue would divide the state when it should be focused on an economic recovery. Snyder made the remarks during a tour of the Detroit auto show.

Snyder says the experience in other Midwestern states shows a fierce political fight could consume the Legislature’s attention and sideline other issues.

“And to get into a very divisive debate like that, you create an environment where not much gets done and I would point to Wisconsin, I’d point to Ohio. If you look at Indiana, that’s kind of consuming all the dialogue in that state," he said.

The governor is preparing to outline his priorities for 2012 in his second State of the State address to be delivered next week.

Republican lawmakers are expected to roll out a measure soon that would outlaw mandatory union membership as a condition of employment. A spokesman for House Speaker Jase Bolger said an honest dialogue and debate does not have to be divisive.

Democratic leaders in the state Legislature say making Michigan a "right-to-work" state would give many families a reason to leave the state.

Supporters of Michigan being a right-to-work state say it would help attract businesses, especially if Indiana and other neighboring states also adopt right-to-work policies. And  supporters cite examples of right-to-work states that have flourished because they got rid of compulsory union dues for workers.

Democratic House Minority Leader Rick Hammel said those examples are misleading.   

“You can slant it whatever way you want, but there are other cases that show it’s not true," said Hammel. "If you’re looking for investment in the state, you want to make sure you have a great, healthy education system. We’ve done a horrible job of making sure we have that. You want to make sure you attract young, talented people… you’re pushing people away, but yet you think you can do it by a right-to-work law. That’s not going to happen.”

Hammel said he thinks the policies approved by Republican state lawmakers and Governor Rick Snyder will be unpopular with voters in Legislative elections this year.

Danny Birchall / Flickr

People who want to end compulsory union membership in Michigan are closely watching Indiana. Debate began in that state’s Capitol today to make Indiana the first “right-to-work” state in the industrial Midwest.

The legislation would ban the requirement that workers pay union dues as a condition of holding a job.

Michigan “right-to-work” supporters say the Indiana debate boosts their cause in a state where Republican Governor Rick Snyder has said the issue is too divisive to tackle.

State Representative Mike Shirkey disagrees with Snyder and plans to introduce a “right-to-work” bill in the Michigan Legislature.

dannybirchall / flickr

Backers of so-called “right to work” legislation plan to make a push for the policy change in Michigan early next year.

The law would prohibit agreements that make union membership or the payment of union dues conditions of employment.

About two dozen states have such laws, but Michigan’s status as a union stronghold has long made prospects difficult here. Those with the campaign, though, say that's changing.

"We’ve seen a slow, long steady decline of manufacturing jobs and good-paying union jobs here in Michigan," said Jack Hoogendyk of Michigan Freedom to Work. "A lot of those jobs have gone to right-to-work states."

But it’s still expected to be an uphill climb. Governor Snyder and Senate Republican Leader Randy Richardville have both said the legislation is not a priority for them.

Critics of the legislation call it “right to work for less.” They say wages are significantly lower in right-to-work states.

user: mattileo / flickr

The Republican Senate Majority Leader, Randy Richardville, says he favors a right-to-work law that would only apply to teachers and other unionized workers in education. Here to explain the political implications of such a law are former Senate Majority Leader and senior policy fellow at Public Sector Consultants, Ken Sikkema, and political analyst for Michigan Information and Research Service, Susan Demas.

 

The Republican leader of the state Senate says he has no interest in making Michigan a right-to-work state.

Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville says union workers have already made many concessions to help Michigan’s economic outlook.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Gov. Rick Snyder is ready to launch a new series of fall initiatives, including measures to improve Michigan residents' health, fix crumbling roads and sewer systems and train
more people for available jobs.

He could unveil his health and wellness initiatives as early as next week. The Republican governor plans to lay out a roads plan in October and a way to better tap Michigan workers' talents in
November.

Snyder has been focused on "reinventing" Michigan since he took office in January, and doesn't plan to slow down anytime soon.

But he could be distracted this fall by a flurry of bills being pushed by fellow Republicans, such as making Michigan a right-to-work state and outlawing a late-term abortion procedure that's already illegal through a federal law.

Michigan Freedom to Work

A coalition that includes some current and former union members wants Michigan to become a so-called “right-to-work” state.

Right-to-work laws prohibit union membership or dues as a condition of employment.

Jack Hoogendyk is a former state lawmaker and a member of Michigan Freedom to Work. He says Michigan would attract more businesses if it weren’t saddled with the reputation as a union stronghold:

Russ Climie / Tiberius Images

Governor Rick Snyder is expected to sign the tax overhaul that replaces the business tax with a 6% corporate income tax on profits.

Leaders of the West Michigan Policy Forum touted "the MBT is dead!” in an email to around 600 supporters Friday. Those supporters voted 'eliminating the business tax' as their top priority during the Policy Forum’s first conference in 2008.

Is Right-to-Work next?

Mar 9, 2011
Getty Images

The labor battle seizing the Midwest right now is focused on the collective bargaining rights of public sector employees. But the fight over breaking these unions may have cracked open another door: the one labeled “right-to-work.”

So, let’s recap some of the big labor news that’s unfolded in recent weeks. Thousands of protestors flooded the capitals of Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, and, of course, Wisconsin.

Also – and this didn’t make headlines — In Grand Rapids, Jared Rodriguez began moving into a new office.

“In fact, I was unpacking boxes when you called,” he said.

Pages