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Working Families: ‘Right-to-Work is Wrong for Michigan’


December 6, 2012

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Michigan activists gather signatures opposing right-to-work

On Dec. 6, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder stunned working families by announcing his support for right-to-work legislation, pushing the lame-duck legislature to jam through a bill by the end of the year.


After the November election, right-wing politicians and big money anti-worker lobbyists stepped up their efforts to pass right-to-work legislation in Michigan,

On Nov. 30 conservative lobbyist Grover Norquist – best known for getting lawmakers to take a pledge not to raise taxes on the wealthiest Americans –  joined the fight, sending legislators a letter telling them that passing right-to-work was “one of the most important steps you can take.”

In response, working families are calling on Lansing legislators not to support what they say is divisive and anti-worker legislation.

Says Sixth District International Representative John Briston, who serves as the IBEW’s political grassroots coordinator for the state:

This is just bad for everybody. The legislature needs to work on job creation, not picking fights with workers.

Activists at the state capitol were locked out after Snyder made his announcement, with protestors forcibly removed from the building. Some were peppered sprayed 

Right-to-work supporters claim it will help the Michigan economy, but for workers – union and nonunion – right-to-work laws have been shown to be bad news.

Bureau of Labor Statistics show that workers in right-to-work states make $5,333 less than those in free bargaining states, while the number of those without health insurance is 20 percent higher in right-to-work states.

And a University of Oregon study found that Oklahoma, which adopted right-to-work in 2001, has seen the number of companies moving to the state drop by a third over the last decade; and unemployment there is higher than average.

Study author Gordon Lafer told the Detroit News:

What it looks like really, largely, is this is a political agenda rather than an economic one. Because economically it doesn’t add up.

Briston says IBEW members are working with other local activists to raise awareness about the negative impact of right-to-work, making phone calls and writing letters to state legislators.

He says the worst part about Snyder’s move is that he and many other Michigan Republicans said they opposed right-to-work legislation as recently as a few months ago.

Snyder called right-to-work “divisive” last spring, while Michigan Chamber of Commerce President Rich Studley told a WDIV-TV news panel in October that “I don’t support right-to-work.”

But under pressure from far-right elements in the party, both men reversed themselves.

The Michigan GOP inserted language into the legislation making it impossible to overturn the bill in a public referendum.

Also under attack is Michigan’s prevailing wage law. Introduced last year, a bill in the state legislature would eliminate the state’s prevailing wage, which requires public projects to pay construction workers a comparable wage as other workers in the area.

Says Strong:

It would drive down wages for everybody in the industry, which is exactly the wrong direction for Michigan families.

Follow the Protect Working Families Facebook page has more information on the fight to stop right-to-work. 

And click here to tell lawmakers that right-to-work is wrong for Michigan.

Update: The bill is moving fast through the state Senate today. Call your Michigan House representative to say you oppose the "right to work" for less bill:888-979-7280.