On Right to Work

Updated: Saturday, August 3 2013, 12:38 AM EDT
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KALAMAZOO, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - It's been simmering on the back burner for a long time, but its sudden move to the front has taken a lot of people by surprise.

All of a sudden, Michigan is on the threshold of becoming a right to work state.

Tonight, in Tom's Corner, TOm Van Howe says the unions have only themselves to blame.


On one hand it's a shock to think that a state that helped give birth to the labor movement, that is home to the UAW, the Teamsters, and legions of smaller extensions of the AFL-CIO, is very likely within a matter of days going to be a right to work state.

Simply put, the law would make joining a union strictly voluntary, including, therefore, the payment of union dues.

And that, so the theory goes, would cut union clout in the state off at the knees.

To be sure, union strength has been diminished in recent years, but the union-backed Proposal 2, which would have protected collective bargaining in this state as a constitutional amendment, went down in flames a month ago.

It was a colossal miscalculation by organized labor to have had it on the ballot in the first place. It lost so badly—58 to 42 percent—that it gave the right to work forces the political will to get to work.

The skids are greased, of course, because right to work is on the agenda of the Republican party, and the State House, the Senate, and the Governor, are all Republican. They have the votes. But this effort goes beyond that.

Since the November election, Republicans leaders quietly charted their course well.

It appears the right to work legislation will be attached to a bill that has already entered the legislative process. That way there is no delay.

In addition, appropriations will be attached to it, meaning the new law can't be repealed.

A new legislature at some future date might reverse it. But it cannot be repealed.

It could be a done deal in a matter of days. Governor Rick Snyder, who has said repeatedly that right to work legislation was not on his agenda, now says he will sign it when it hits his desk.

It'll affect all public and private sector unions—although police and firefighters will be exempt.

There is no guarantee that new factories or more jobs will flood the state as a result of this.

But we can rest assured nobody is going to take this sitting down.

Big labor is already making as much noise as it can. Teachers will join the fray. Its not going to be pretty around here for a while.

But without the resounding defeat of Proposal 2 just one month ago, without that incredible political miscalculation by the unions, the right to work issue would most likely have remained one of those proverbial cans that get kicked on down the road.


In this corner...I'm Tom Van Howe.
On Right to Work
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