In this historic stronghold of the American labor movement, the phrase “right to work” is seen by many as fighting words.Here's the bad news. Republican governor Rick Snyder is a wimp. If he would get behind this bill it would sail through the legislature. Right-to-work is the right thing to do and he should have no qualms backing it.
But with a new GOP-controlled state Legislature and a Republican governor in place in Lansing, a move is afoot to make Michigan the 23rd state in the nation to adopt legislation that would prohibit unions and employers from regulating collection of union dues or requiring employees to join a union if their workplace is organized.
“We’ve got growing and substantial support in the Legislature for pursuing Michigan becoming a right-to-work state, but this is a marathon, not a sprint, and it’s all about making sure we are removing all obstacles to jobs,” said state Rep. Mike Shirkey, Clarklake Republican.
“Everyone acknowledges that overcoming the 75-plus-year history of legacy unions here is not something you do overnight. But some of the polls statewide indicate the public is moving toward a direction of supporting workers having the choice,” he said. “I’m not anti-union. I call it labor freedom, where unions are as free to make their case as workers are to make their choice.”
Despite the presence of the powerful United Auto Workers, a recent poll by the Grand Rapids Press found that 51 percent of state residents polled said they would back a right-to-work statute, compared with 27 percent opposed. The poll sample was relatively small, surveying 300 Michigan voters.
The state’s Republican governor, Rick Snyder, has said right-to-work laws are not on his agenda, calling them divisive at a time when his state must band together to change its economic direction. But some speculate that, if such a law moved through the Legislature, Mr. Snyder might quietly pass on the chance to veto it.
Among those betting on the governor’s ultimate support is Mr. Shirkey, who said Mr. Snyder, a successful entrepreneur before taking office, has done “some unbelievably courageous and gutsy things” since his election a year ago and is not afraid of going against the grain.
“He would say, ‘It’s not on my agenda,’ but he’s not saying it can’t be on his agenda,” Mr. Shirkey said.
Hopefully the Republican legislature puts Snyder to the test.
Mike "Mish" Shedlock
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