Michigan Republicans swiftly passed a right to work law last Thursday, attracting outrage from Democratic lawmakers and labor unions in the state. The law would allow people to join unions on their own accord, without being forced to pay dues as a condition of employment. Apparently, protesters attempted to storm the chamber floor, while Democrats rushed out of the chamber following the vote. Pepper spray was reportedly involved.
Nothing’s official yet, due to a Michigan law that requires a five-day wait period between Senate and House votes, but this week it will likely be wrapped up. The LA Times has more:
[I]t’s surprising to most that this law would pass so easily in Michigan, once a union stronghold where the United Autoworkers were a powerful force. Labor groups in the state had tried to pass a constitutional amendment prohibiting such laws in the November election, but were defeated 57% to 43%.
But Michigan, like other states such as Wisconsin, Indiana and Ohio that have passed anti-labor laws in recent years, has a Republican-controlled legislature, which just shows that the effects of the 2010 election, in which the tea party was swept into office, still resonate, said Paul Secunda, a professor of labor law at Marquette University in Wisconsin.
Union proponents propagate that the right to work law would severly curb wages and benefits. But unless you ignore the statistical impact of right to work in other states, this is not the case. In fact, in states that have instituted right to work, which includes 25 states, the exact opposite is true.
When such freedoms are granted to workers, wages increase, benefits usually get better, and the overall state of the economy improves. Michigan cannot afford to not enact a free-ridership labor environment, as the state has improved over the years, but not at a rate as progressive as past recoveries. What it comes down to is allowing businesses to effectively compete with surrounding states. Just look at California, and their anti-business environment and surmountingly-high tax rates.
Right to work just makes sense.