Op-Ed: Right to work repeal puts politics over Michigan's people
Tue, Mar 14, 2023 9:00 AM
By Mark Mix, president of the National Right to Work Committee, The Center Square
Michigan’s Right to Work law defends the simple principle that union bosses should not have the power to get workers fired if they choose not to pay dues to a union they oppose. So what do Michiganders have to gain if state legislators complete their attempt to repeal the state’s Right to Work law?
Governor Gretchen Whitmer should answer this question.
I suspect that she will not muster an answer.
Whitmer’s eagerness to repeal a law that is favored by 74% of Michigan voters demonstrates first and foremost that she has been agitating for the destruction of Right to Work based purely on union boss propaganda and politicking – not on the will of Michigan voters.
If Whitmer would answer honestly why Right to Work repeal is good for her state, she would likely answer “politics” – everything is politics to her.
If Whitmer makes the dreadful mistake of signing the Right to Work repeal bill, she will be approving legislation that yields no tangible benefits for Michiganders purely in response to political pressures from union bosses.
In addition, she would also be violating her own promise to veto legislation that manipulates appropriations amendments just to block a referendum vote before all Michigan voters. Legislators have added a $1 million appropriation to the Right to Work repeal, nonsensically claiming that it will cost money to no longer enforce workers’ protections against forced dues.
Repealing Right to Work protections will immediately lead to tangible harms for Michigan workers. Any Michigan auto worker who abstained from paying union dues after witnessing federal investigators uncover mountains of corruption and embezzlement within the United Auto Workers (UAW) union will now be forced to pay UAW bosses just to keep his or her job.
As the governor of the state that the UAW is based in, and the state that’s home to the nation’s largest automakers, Governor Whitmer would execute a stunning betrayal of Michigan workers by taking away this basic right to choose.
Aside from the fundamental freedom of choice that Right to Work provides Michigan workers, Whitmer will also be shunning the hefty economic benefits that Great Lakes State citizens have reaped since the enactment of Right to Work in 2013. Right to Work helped bring a close to Michigan’s catastrophic “Lost Decade,” when jobs and people departed the state in droves, and served as a foundation for new jobs and investment.
Nowhere is this truer than in the manufacturing sector. From 2013 to 2021, Michigan’s manufacturing sector employment shot up 6.4%, trouncing non-Right to Work states’ 1.1% decline in that statistic during the same period.
If Whitmer has any doubts about the power of Right to Work to attract jobs and investment, she could ask fellow Democratic Governor Laura Kelly of Kansas, whose administration is proudly promoting Kansas’ Right to Work status, and just landed a new $1.9 billion computer chip facility.
Michigan’s Right to Work law safeguards workers’ freedom of association, boosts the state’s economic opportunity, and does all this without costing taxpayers a penny. It’s no wonder the law is so popular that polling shows even majorities of union members oppose its repeal.
But Michigan’s union elite see the repeal of Right to Work as an opportunity to enlarge their coffers and solidify their political stranglehold on the state. As Right to Work repeal moves to Governor Whitmer’s desk, a massive political power grab and a river of new revenue for union officials that will recycle into the campaigns of their pet politicians is just within their reach.
For Michigan union bosses, it’s true they believe that “everything is politics” – politics clearly trumps workers’ individual liberty and economic opportunity. But Governor Whitmer doesn’t have to go along with this cynical power play.
She can veto the Right to Work repeal and stand with the vast majority of voters who believe that it’s wrong to take away Michigan workers’ free choice rights just to expand union boss power. That would be putting Michigan first.