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:

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:

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.

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