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IBEW President Ed Hill on the Passage of Michigan's Right-to-Work Law

December 14, 2012

Michigan's state Capitol during right to work protests
Michigan's state Capitol during Right-to-Work protests

This week’s passage of right-to-work legislation marks a huge step back for Michigan working families.


At a time when lawmakers’ top priority should be job creation and rebuilding the middle class, Gov. Rick Snyder and the majority of the lame duck state legislature voted to silence the voices of Michigan’s middle class, slash their wages and pit union and nonunion workers against each other.  

Contrary to the claims of right-to-work boosters, there is no evidence that weakening unions will make Michigan more competitive or create jobs.  What it will do is “Walmartize” the economy, making the state a haven for low-wage jobs that barely lift the average worker out of poverty.

Right to work laws drive down wages for all workers by an average of $1,500 a year, whether they are in a union or not.

And 28 percent more workers go without health insurance in right-to-work states than in non-right-to-work ones.

Snyder’s radical course will also paralyze the legislative process, poisoning the political atmosphere in Lansing in the years ahead and threatening Michigan’s tentative economic recovery. As the Detroit Free Press – which endorsed Snyder – put it, right-to-work legislation will leave other initiatives in the dust, including bills targeting jobs, infrastructure spending and education.

Since his election in 2010, Snyder repeatedly announced that he considered right-to-work divisive and not on his agenda. And many Democratic, independent, and moderate Republican voters believed him, seeing Snyder as a different kind of Republican – a pragmatist who would focus on bipartisan, common sense solutions to rebuilding the economy, as opposed to Tea Party backed Govs. Scott Walker of Wisconsin, John Kasich of Ohio, and Rick Scott of Florida, who embroiled their respective states in divisive battles over anti-worker legislation from the get-go.

But under pressure by big money right-wing ideologues like the Koch brothers and anti-union lobbyists like Amway founder

Dick DeVos, Snyder and GOP legislators reversed course, cramming through right-to-work legislation before many lawmakers had the chance to even read the bill – all while expelling pro-worker protestors from the state capitol.

Michigan voters made clear last November that they wanted their elected officials to focus on building the middle class from the bottom up, working together to find solutions to getting the economy back on track.

Snyder chose to ignore the voters’ will. He joins the ranks of Walker, Scott and Kasich in pursuing policies that increase the power of the very wealthy, silence the voices of working families and promote an economic race to the bottom – a race where the only winners will be Wall Street and outsourcing CEOs.

The IBEW stands together with Michiganders across the state in denouncing Snyder’s deceptive tactics and will work to hold all elected officials accountable in our efforts to build a stronger Michigan – one the benefits all families and gives every worker a shot at a decent future for themselves and their children.