Michigan a Right-to-Work State? Now It Is.

4 years ago

Who would have ever thought that the union stronghold of Michigan would ever become a right-to-work state? Yet that’s exactly what happened today, when the Michigan legislature passed two anti-union measures, over the protests of tens of thousands of people outside the state capitol. The two bills will affect public and private sector employees.

Dec. 6, 2012 - Lansing, Michigan, U.S. - Lansing, Michigan - Union members rallied at the state capitol to protest sudden ''right to work'' legislation backed by Republican legislators and Governor Rick Snyder. (Credit Image: © Jim West/ZUMAPRESS.com)

Republican Governor Rob Snyder pushed the bill, which he claimed would make the state more attractive to businesses and bring more jobs to the area. Twenty-three other states have similar laws on the books. Last year, Wisconsin passed a similar law banning collective bargaining for teachers, which was later overturned. But the Michigan law is considered even more of a blow to workers.

And in case you’re wondering, the term right-to-work may be somewhat confusing. What right-to-work laws actually do is prohibit unions from creating “closed shops”—or negotiating with companies to create workplaces in which employees are required to join a union. These closed shops prevent so-called free riders, or employees who benefit from the working conditions and wages negotiated by the labor group, without paying dues.

On Twitter, Michigan, Right to Work and #RTW were all trending, with tweets from the left lamenting today's vote:

Huge crowd in Lansing 'What's disgusting, union busting!'#savemi #NoRTWMI #teamsters #1u twitter.com/Elzinor/status… #teamsters

— Teamsters (@Teamsters) December 11, 2012

5 things to know about Michigan's anti-union legislation huff.to/X5Nfjb

— HuffPost Politics (@HuffPostPol) December 11, 2012

Michigan passes Right to Work Bill in Michigan? must be a prank?

— janis james (@winerer) December 11, 2012

Praying for all the workers in #Michigan today who r fighting for their rights, dignity & respect. Things that r already theirs.

— Linda Sarsour (@lsarsour) December 11, 2012

Tweets from the right tended celebrate the law as allowing workers to choose whether or not to join a labor union, while emphasizing teachers who left school to protest at the capitol and threats of violence:

Michigan unions protest right to work law. If unions are so good for workers why are unions unwilling to earn the membership? Choice?

— Mark Young (@Mark_JekyllHyde) December 11, 2012

Teachers Bail on Michigan Kids Who Can't Read at Their Grade Level townhall.com/tipsheet/Katie…

— Matt Dawson (@SaintRPh) December 11, 2012

Right to Work prohibits requiring the payment of union dues as a condition of employment. OH NOES. #righttowork

— Emily Zanotti (@emzanotti) December 11, 2012

Governor Snyder is expected to sign the right-to-work measure, which legal analysts say will be hard to overturn.

Are you or someone in your family a member of union? What do you think of right-to-work?

News and Politics Editor Grace Hwang Lynch blogs at HapaMama and A Year (Almost) Without Shopping.

This is an article written by a member of the SheKnows Community. The SheKnows editorial team has not edited, vetted or endorsed the content of this post. Want to join our amazing community and share your own story? Sign up here.
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