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.

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