The great state of Michigan is home to some of the hardest working men and women in this nation. Our workers are among the best in the world and it is crucial to the future of this state that we stand up for our middle-class Michiganders. These individuals have fought tirelessly throughout the years for the safe working conditions and fair pay that we now enjoy.
Our workers are highly skilled and exceptionally trained. They work our mines in the Upper Peninsula, they build our cars and trucks in Dearborn, they built the mighty Mackinac Bridge, they teach our children, they work as guards in our prisons, they keep us safe as they patrol our neighborhoods, and they protect our homes and property from fires. Day in and day out, they put quality into their work and they deserve a safe place to work and a fair wage.
However, it is with absolute frustration that I report to you that the leadership in Lansing has clearly caved to special interests and corporate profits and has put the livelihood of our middle-class, working families in serious jeopardy. This so-called Right-to-Work legislation is divisive and dangerous and it was rammed through the legislative process without any sort of proper discussion or debate.
The bottom line is that this legislation is about corporate greed and lowering workers' wages. When unions can't effectively bargain on behalf of their members, wages go down across the entire labor market. Lower wages mean middle-class families struggle even more to put food on the table and they have less money to spend in their communities. When spending goes down, the economy contracts and jobs are lost. Studies continue to show that employees in right-to-work states make much less than those in free-bargaining states.
When I first stepped on the house floor a little less than two years ago, there was a lot of time spent making sure that the new members knew the rules and policies of the Michigan legislature. However, the way that this legislation was rushed through the entire process with complete disregard for transparency and accountability is extremely alarming.
These bills were not given a committee hearing and the citizens of this state were not given an opportunity to voice their concerns. What is even more unacceptable is the fact that the legislation also contains a meaningless appropriation so that it removes the people's sacred right to challenge the actions of their legislators. The unprecedented activity that surrounded the State Capitol Building as these bills were rushed through the legislative process is a genuine representation of the dissatisfaction that is being felt throughout this state. The leadership in Lansing has shown completely disrespect for the democratic process.
This should not be a republican or democrat issue and my colleagues on the other side of the aisle should not be using this as a political tool. We should be protecting the future of the hardworking men and women of this state and we should be coming together in the realm of human rights and social economic justice.