Governor Rick Snyder and the predominantly Republican Michigan state legislature crafted a bill making Michigan the 24th right-to-work-state in the Union. The bill has already passed both Houses and is now headed towards Governor Snyder's desk for his signature.
What does right to work mean?
It means an end to the 'closed shop' where anyone wanting to work in certain jobs or unionized workplaces is compelled to join a union and pay dues.
Governor Snyder and his fellow Republicans were elected to try and get Michigan's fiscal house in order, fix the state's broken economy and deal with the state's over the top deficit.
One of the major problems has been the fiscal meltdown of Detroit, where public employee unions have consistently obstructed any kind of action by Mayor Bing, the spineless and corrupt Democrat city council or Governor Snyder's attempts to try and salvage the situation by appointing an emergency manager as state laws mandate.
Making Michigan a right to work state based on the experience of other states who've gone this route can also be expected to bring jobs to the state and provide more revenue. If one looks at the states where budget woes are particularly egregious, they're all heavily unionized states with mandatory closed shop practices, particularly when it comes to the public employee unions.
Needless to say, this has not gone unnoticed. The Democrats understand all to well the relationship between the closed shop and the financing of their party, and the union bosses, especially in the public sector realize that if this goes down, the days of their buying Democrat politicians and then 'negotiating' with them for raises and benefits at the public expense are over, at least in Michigan. Threatening violence is definitely not off the table:
'There will be blood'. Nor was this merely rhetoric. The unions bussed in thousands of protestors, as they did in Wisconsin, and there were numerous incidents of intimidation and even outright violence, with the police coming in to Lansing in force to do their best to keep the peace.
For instance, the Americans For Prosperity had erected a small tent and were passing out literature in support of the bill, which they had a perfect legal right to do.
Their tent was ripped to shreds with knives by union operatives, their literature scattered and one AFP activist, Steven Crowder was punched numerous times in the face.
Left wingers who applaud this sort of the thing and who proudly retweeted Rep. Geiss' threat of violence ought to realize that it eventually leads to the other side organizing its own group to defend themselves. Which is not a good situation from anyone's standpoint.
What exactly are the Democrat and union arguments against the bill?
First, a number of them object to this being done by the state legislature rather than a popular referendum.I suppose they know now how conservatives felt when things like gay marriage, ObamaCare, public employee union contracts, the notion of sanctuary cities for illegal aliens, heavily restrictive gun laws and countless other acts were forced on the general public by the left in exactly that way, by diktat. But somehow I've never heard the same sort of people making this argument now say that it was unfair for the legislature to proceed in this manner when it was something that was part of their agenda..have you?
The second argument concerns what its proponents refer to as 'freeloaders'.
In Communication Workers v. Beck, the Supreme Court ruled that a union member can opt out of the political portion of union dues and should not be forced to pay for union lobbying or political work. However, in practice, the amount of activities a union member can opt out of is absurdly small, typically between 5% and 10%, and they still are required to fork over for things like “internal communications,” attempts to persuade members to vote a certain way, food and facilities for workers rallying outside the capitol and get-out-the-vote drives aimed at the union’s members.
Democrats make the argument that no one is compelled to join a union thanks to this decision. But it's worth noting that the unions fought Beck all the way to the Supreme Court - and still do.
In the real world, there's also a significant intimidation factor. The union knows exactly who's kicked in and who hasn't. I grew up in a union home, and I can tell you from experience that most locals have a few guys who act as 'enforcers' whose job it is to explain things to dissident union members and see that everyone gets with the program.
Few union members opt out.
Workers in a closed shop who choose not to join the union are hit with 'association fees' that again, amount to between 90-95% of normal union dues. Democrats and the unions assert that since non-union members would be covered by union contracts negotiated by collective bargaining. So allowing non-union members to benefit from those contracts amounts to making the non-union member a freeloader, and one popular talking point being used refers to the Michigan right to work statute as a 'freeloader ' bill.
This second argument makes some sense, actually..but only when we're talking about private sector unions.
Public employee unions don't 'negotiate' in the commonly accepted sense of the word. They go to the Democrat politicians they put into office, tell them what they want and end up getting most of it courtesy of the taxpayers..with the tacit agreement that a chunk of the swag will be kicked right back to the Democrats coffers come election time.
This is the Ponzi scheme that has been funding the Democrats for decades at the public expense, and it's a major reason why states like Michigan and cities like Detroit are broke.
A private outfit like the UAW is in a different category, Aside from the fact that their paychecks come from a private company instead of the public trough, They can make the historical argument that without the unified strength of their membership, they're at a disadvantage. If I had written this bill, I might have limited it to public employee unions, even though that negates part of the purpose for passing the bill.
Be that as it may, this bill is an obvious necessity if Michigan is to recover economically.
Stay tuned...this is going to be a huge battle.