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We Must Stand Up for Democracy

The 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 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.

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laplateau December 13, 2012 at 12:55 PM
George...yes, you are right that people did not have to join a union prior to the passage of RTW...BUT, they HAD to pay union FEES anyway. and...pahleeze...PUBLISH your version of RTW that says uniion membesr no longer have to pay dues. Come on George...be honest! That is NOT in RTW. Also, most people were never told they did not have to join a union and only pay fees. And,my personal experience was that those who opted for that path were discriminated against by union members...even harassed...much like what happened in all the videos you see of the protests in Lansing.
Dearborn Taxpayer December 13, 2012 at 03:31 PM
George, your comment about fairness to "take advantage" of things the union negotiates is absolutely untrue. Unions are not required to negotiate for non-dues paying employees. In fact, unions can choose to negotiate wages, benefits, working conditions, etc. only for there dues paying members. This is covered by federal law and the Michigan Right/Freedom to Work legislation does nothing to change that. Unions in MI continue to be free to choose to negotiate higher wages, benefits, working conditions, etc. exclusively for their dues paying members. That's why I don't understand why you are so afraid of this and distort facts about it. As I see it, people will flock to unions and pay dues if they truly provide value of higher wages, benefits, working conditions, etc. than the annual cost paid by their dues paying members.
Concerned Taxpayer December 14, 2012 at 12:03 PM
Dear George, Did you even read the RTW bill? I really think that you did not and are playing on people's emotions. I have read the bill and NO WHERE in the RTW Legislature does it say a UNION has to BARGAIN for ANYONE who is NOT PAYING DUES. What it does say is that people do have a Right to Organize and that it is illegal for a Union to have a contract with an employer that states that All the employees doing x,y, & z jobs have to be Unionized and forced to pay dues to the Union. This law actually gives the worker individual choice on if they want the Union to represent them or not. It does not state that the union must represent them if they are not paying due!
Steve December 14, 2012 at 08:01 PM
If a state passed a law *mandating* a "union shop," that would probably be seen as unfair. Right? Government overreach at its worst. So how is a state passing a law *mandating* an "open shop" not seen as equally unfair? "Open shop" vs. "Union shop" is a negotiable term, like dress code and wages and seniority. Not something the government should concern itself with. How about we just allow the workers and employer to negotiate a contract that is suitable to both parties? If enough workers want an open shop, and the ability to opt out of dues, they can fight for that at the negotiating table. Or take the "union shop" option off the table altogether. Or decertify their union. Or elect a group of local leaders who will make an "open shop" their priority. If someone doesn't like the dress code their union agreed to in negotiations, would it make sense to take it up with a state legislature? To lobby for a law making it illegal for unions and management to negotiate on the issue of dress codes? No, the logical move would be to simply work to change the dress code from within your local at the negotiating table. So why should the government be allowed to mandate a negotiable term one way or the other, especially when it stacks the deck against one of the two parties? That's not very free-market, and interfering in contract negotiations isn't a conservative value-- except when it punishes one's political enemies apparently, and that's all this is about. Political revenge.
laplateau December 19, 2012 at 09:08 PM
STEVE....damn..I am getting so tired of people like you spouting so many un-truisms. You are sounding lilke ol' Georgie here. No one is mandating an open shop---they are simply saying that a union shop can no longer mandate joining a union as a condition of employment! That's ALL...nothing more. Workers and employers can stilll negotiate for any conditions they please...they now don't have to join a particular union to do so. Union shop = you have to join a union. Open shop = you don't have to join a union if you don't want to, but you can if you want. VERY simple...hard to believe you don't understand that...but then again, I think may be you do understand, but prefer to distort the truth about RTW. It ain't working Stevie!

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