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Nov
2012
29

The Michigan GOP is Talking “Right-to-Work,” but One Big Voice May Not be Heard

An interesting battle is about to play out during Michigan’s “lame duck” session. “Right-to-Work” legislation is being pushed despite the objections of Republican Gov. Rick Snyder and one other unlikely voice of dissent: the state’s Chamber of Commerce (CoC).

Throughout his tenure, Snyder has stated that “Right-to-Work” is not part of his agenda. Yet, Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville has called “Right-to-Work” an “800 pound gorilla in the room” and says it will be discussed during the upcoming session. What makes this story unique, however, is that the typically pro-”Right-to-Work” and very anti-labor CoC is against it as well. At least that’s what this video, uncovered by Alex Hogan at the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), seems to suggest:

The Michigan AFL-CIO is organizing “Lame Duck Activist events” which will take place in Bay City, Saginaw, Detroit, Ann Arbor, Kalamazoo, Grand Rapids and Flint over the next month. Republicans have not planned a specific vote on “Right-to-Work” but they have promised a discussion. The vagueness of this “discussion” should worry the state’s workers. MichiganLive highlights “Right-to-Work” in its “15 Topics to Watch in the Lame Duck Session” piece:

How deep will Michigan lawmakers dive into this politically charged labor relations issue? Republican leaders say a discussion about right-to-work is likely over the next few weeks. But that doesn’t necessarily mean action on any specific proposal is forthcoming ā€“ particularly since Snyder has repeatedly said right-to-work isn’t on his agenda. Right-to-work laws prohibit labor contracts that require workers to pay union dues. Indiana’s move to become the nation’s 23rd right-to-work state has intensified the debate in Michigan. So has union-backed Proposal 2, which would have guaranteed collective bargaining rights in the state constitution and short-circuited a right-to-work movement. Voters rejected Proposal 2 in this month’s election. Supporters will continue to push for right-to-work, but it’s difficult to tell how much attention the issue might get during lame duck.

Labor activists may have seen ballot measures 2 and 4 defeated in November, but those measures constituted efforts to institute new rights, not take old ones away. “Right-to-Work” represents a destructive concept that constituents may be ever so slightly more informed about since neighboring states like Indiana have made headlines for attacking it. With Democrats having made small gains in both legislative chambers last month, the framework is in place to protect Michigan’s workers from this nasty bill. Especially considering the bad guys may be missing one of their heavyweights, the Chamber of Commerce.

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