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Michigan Enacts Right to Work Law

Posted by Steve Markowitz on December 12, 2012

Michigan became the 24th state to enact a “right to work” law.  This law makes it illegal for companies and unions to force employees to join a union or pay union dues as a requirement for employment.

While most Americans believe that being forced to join a union or any organization is against their basic individual freedoms, unions and their Progressive allies have a more dictatorial view.  Unions argue that forcing workers to join the organization improves collective bargaining rights and stops those who not pay dues from obtaining benefits obtained from union representation.  Both arguments are red herrings and are cover-ups for the real reasons; greed and power.  Union bosses benefit from compulsory union dues that help maintain their executive–level salaries.  Politicians obtain the benefits from compulsory dues in the form of union donations and organizational efforts that help maintain their political power.

michigan-legislationThe passage of Michigan’s right the work law was aided by a union political effort that backfired.  Unions helped place on the November ballot an initiative that would have strengthened collective bargaining laws in the State’s Constitution.  The initiative was defeated by over 15 percentage points, a remarkable rebuke in a state with a long history of unionism.

After the Michigan law was approved by its legislature, union protests, sometimes violent, broke out.  Outside agitators stoked the poor losers reaction with even President Obama weighing in on the issue when he said that right to work laws are made “to take away your rights to bargain for better wages or working conditions.”  This is a ludicrous and politically motivated claim that is not backed by fact.

In a recent article titled Freedom from union compulsion, Boston Globe columnist Jeff Jacoby offers the following facts about unions and their economic impact on states:

  • In the past four decades the population of right-to-work states has doubled, compared to compulsory unionism states growing by only one-third.  About 5 million people have moved to states with right to work laws from those states that do not have this freedom.
  • In the past 10 years, compensation in right-to-work states grew by about 12%, versus only 3% in other states.
  • One of Michigan’s neighbors, Indiana, became a right to work state about a year ago and has since added over 40,000 jobs.  During the same period Michigan lost 4,200 jobs.

Compulsory unionization is an attack on individual freedom.  In addition, the irrational economic behavior shown by many unions and their high paid bosses result in long-term problems for their companies and the states in which they are located.  The facts included above help prove this reality.

Ultimately, the consumer decides on the profit level of companies and compensation paid to their workers.  If consumers demand a company’s the product over alternatives available, thus applying companies and employees will prosper.  If not, upstarts will enter the market and ultimately damage the inefficient companies and their workers.  It is this basic economic law that led to the downfall of many large industrial companies in the United States including the auto industry in Michigan.  Michigan’s passage of the right to work law is a step in the road to recovery.

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