LANSING, MI – It may have been a cold day in Lansing, Michigan, but the politics and the tempers were hot.
Union members from across Michigan converged on the state capitol where members of the House debated two bills that could decide the future of organized labor in the state considered the cradle of the nation’s labor movement.
In the end, the House approved two right-to-work bills, one for public employees and the other for the private sector. The Senate already passed them, and now they go to the governor who already said he will sign them.
The bills allow non-union workers the option of not paying union dues, even though the union would bargain on their behalf.
“With this legislation, unions will remain free to make their case, but with this legislation workers will now be freed to make their choice,” said Jase Bolger (R), the Michigan Speaker of the House
Critics say it’s nothing more than legalized union busting. Supporters say the move will make Michigan more competitive with the 23 other states that have right-to-work laws, and that includes Texas.
Seventeen percent of the state’s workers belong to a union, and that makes Michigan one of the most heavily unionized states to pass such a measure.
It also explains why President Obama made a special trip to Michigan to show his administration’s solidarity with the union label. ‘These so-called right to work laws, they don’t have to do with economics; they have everything to do with politics.’
And that’s a rather ironic statement, given the current political mess leading the country toward the fiscal cliff.