Wednesday, November 28, 2012

“Right to Work” legislation is being pushed by the leadership of the Michigan legislature despite even Republican Governor Snyder’s urgings to not attempt this in Lame Duck Session. 

What is “Right to Work” legislation? In a paper written by Rolan Zullo, Research Scientist at theInstitute for Labor and Industrial Relations at the University of Michigan, the term “Right to Work” (to be called RTW from now on) is a misnomer.  It has nothing to do with a person’s right  work.   It has everything to do with what Zullo calls union “security” clauses.  These clauses are in contracts of employers with unions and create what we call “union shops” in Michigan.  These laws require all employees that benefit from union representation to belong to the union, or at least be “fee payers”. (Fee Payers pay approximately the same dues as other union members, but their money can go to charity.  They do NOT belong to the union).  The logic behind this provision is that the employer has recognized the union as the representatives of the employee group and EVERYONE, union member or not, benefits from the stipulations of the contract, wages, and benefits that are bargained by the union.

Right to Work supporters believe that individuals should not be required to financially support any collective unions against their will.   However, as Zullo points out, union membership benefits are indisputable.  He sites evidence that union workers earn wages that are “10 to 40 percent higher than non-union counterparts.”  It is easy to see why employERS want RTW legislation!  They can pay you 10 to 40% less AND they can manipulate the rules to their purposes and/or fire you for ANY cause.   To read this paper go to:

A union also has contractual features that spell out provisions that protect members from getting fired without cause and provide protections and remedies for members to use in a host of situations.  Without these provisions, an employee would be “at will”; meaning they could be discharged for any reason.

Obviously, the legislation passed this last year has weakened the power of the unions in Michigan, but as MIRS News states, the “RTW” laws are meant to be a “kill shot” to the unions in retaliation for their pursuit of Proposal 2 in November’s election.

The new Democratic House Minority Leader, Tim Greimel of Pontiac, has warned the Republican majority that they will lose any support from the Democratic House members for any new legislation, and in addition, they will not vote to support Jase Bolger’s appointment to the Speaker of the House leadership.  In the past, all parties have voted to support the appointment of the Speaker of the House even if they are not of the same party to signal a bipartisanship.  MIRS News is reporting that by not voting for Bolger, the House is a bid to “humiliate” Bolger and the Republican party.
I personally do not know if the Republican party that is currently in power is capable of humility, however I am very happy to see the Democratic caucus in the House willing to stand behind Labor and make a BOLD statement in support of our rights to organize, despite the failure of Proposal 2.

What can we do?  WRITE Governor Snyder at the email address below.  Put in your information and then copy and paste the message I have included at the end of this posting OR you may send your own personal message.

The TIME TO DO THIS IS NOW!  RTW looks like it will be rolled out this week and voted on next TUESDAY, December 4th!

Here is a suggested message for Governor Snyder:
Governor Snyder,
Please tell the House Leadership to not pursue Right to Work legislation in the coming weeks.  This legislation is detrimental to the work force of Michigan.  While it seems the House leadership deems it to be beneficial to employers, this legislation is very devisive and will be destructive to the hard workers in the state of Michigan.  Employees should have a say in their conditions of employment and the employer has every ability to bargain with a union membership to come to fair terms for both parties.