A ‘National Attack’: Michigan Passes ‘Right-to-Work’ Law
Republican Gov. Rick Snyder signed into law contentious “right-to-work” legislation on Tuesday after tear-gas wielding police and over ten thousand people protesting the attack on labor converged at the state Capitol and vowed that the day’s action was just the beginning.
Snyder’s signature makes the state the 24th to have a law dubbed by critics as “right-to-work for less.”
Among the thousands speaking out against the legislation Tuesday was United Auto Worker President Bob King, the Detroit Free Press reports:
“Unions built the middle class of America,” he said. “This is a national attack. These folks want to shift more and more of the wealth to a smaller and smaller group of people.”
Speaker after speaker, including firefighters, teachers and factory workers, vowed today’s protest was just the start. They said they would follow legislators all over the state to remind people of their votes.
State Rep. Brandon Dillon, who spoke out against the legislation on the House floor on Thursday, told Democracy Now! on Tuesday that Republicans are “pushing a law that is decisively anti-labor-union, anti-worker, and the only defense they can have is to come up with buzzwords like ‘freedom to work’ and ‘pro-worker.’”
San Francisco State University professor John Logan dismantles the Republican worker “freedom” story at In These Times:
Snyder insists on stating that right-to-work laws give workers the “ultimate choice” on whether or not they join a union. Either through willful ignorance or deliberate misrepresentation, Snyder is professing to give employees a right that they already enjoy.
In fact, right-to-work laws simply outlaw agreements that provide for agency fees from non-members, thereby making it much more difficult for unions to maintain stable organizations. Unions are still required by law to negotiate on behalf of all the workers in the bargaining unit, even though under right-to-work, non-members don’t pay for the representation they receive.
What right-to-work laws are really about, according to Rep. Dillon, is corporate profits.
This isn’t about freedom to choose, and they know that. They know from their own polling that the more people know about this proposal, the less they like it. What they don’t tell you is that nobody has been forced to join a labor union in Michigan. It’s illegal under federal law. And in fact, if this right to work — or as my colleagues and I like to refer to it as “freedom to freeload” — passes, those that choose not to join a union and not to pay dues will still be given all the benefits that a union contract entails and all the protections that union representation has. The proponents of this legislation will not tell you that. They will not tell you that unions will still be bound to represent those people who choose not to participate in the union.
The full article originally appeared at Common Dreams.