originally appeared in The Wall Street Journal:
November, unions lost big in Michigan when voters rejected Proposal 2,
Big Labor's plan to canonize collective bargaining in the state
constitution. Now they're facing a backlash with the happy possibility
that Michigan could become the 24th right-to-work state.
have been preparing to introduce a right-to-work bill in the state
legislature, and the labor cavalry is heading to the Wolverine state.
According to the United Auto Workers website, the union will rally
Thursday in Lansing to spook lawmakers out of going through with the
Target No. 1 is Governor Rick Snyder, who held a
press conference on Tuesday to say that right to work was on the agenda
for "thoughtful discussion." That's a shift for Mr. Snyder, who has
tiptoed around the topic since he was elected, saying it wasn't a battle
he was looking for. Unions took his soft touch as a sign of weakness
and pushed Proposal 2, which would have given them a virtual veto over
all union-related legislation.
Meanwhile, the economy
has languished. Michigan is the fifth most unionized state in the
country and the birthplace of the UAW. According to the Mackinac Center
for Public Policy, Michigan has lost 7,300 jobs since January, while
next-door Indiana, which became a right-to-work state earlier this year,
has been on the upswing.
According to the Indiana
Economic Development Corporation, the state has a record number of
businesses choosing to expand or set up in the state, including Amazon
and Toyota. The 220 companies will create some 21,000 new jobs and
invest $3.6 billion. The growth has come despite a decrease in the
average tax incentives offered by the state to $8,900 from around
$37,000 in previous years.
Republicans hold a 26-12
majority in the Michigan Senate and a 64-46 majority in the state House.
According to a recent poll by Mitchell Research & Communications
for a right-to-work advocacy group, 51% of Michiganders support a
right-to-work law while 41% are opposed.
important because if a right-to-work law passed the legislature, unions
could still try to repeal it on the ballot, as they did this year with
the emergency manager law, which let the Governor appoint emergency
financial managers who could redo collective-bargaining agreements. By
the time a similar fight could be waged against right to work, voters
could have had more than a year to see the law's economic benefits.
AFL-CIO has said that politicians who oppose Big Labor would pay a
steep political price, but it's not turning out that way. In Indiana,
Republicans picked up nine seats after the right-to-work law passed and
lawmakers who made the law a key part of their agenda won by wide
margins. If that's the price they pay, Michigan's politicians should be
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