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Michigan could become the newest right-to-work state

Michigan has long been a stronghold for American labor unions, but now it is becoming a battleground in the right-to-work movement’s push against compulsory unionization.

Backers of Michigan’s right-to-work bill hope the state will become 24th in the country passing a bill preventing unions firing workers who refuse to contribute to them financially.

“Right-to-work does not affect collective bargaining in any way except to take away unions’ ability to fire workers for not paying them,” Mackinac Center for Public Policy’s Labor Policy Director Vincent Vernuccio said in a statement. “It makes unions accountable to their members. Unions will no longer be able to bolster their political power by taking money from people who don’t support their agenda.”

In 1930, Detroit was home to 1.5 million people and was a major industrial center. However, today the city is bankrupt, it’s population half what it was then and is threatened with dissolution by the state of Michigan largely because unions made it impossible for the Big Three automakers to compete with lower-cost foreign competitors.

Proponents say that Michigan’s union-friendly laws have contributed to the state’s loss of some 7,300 jobs in the past year while its neighbor to the south, right-to-work Indiana, has added 43,300 jobs in the same time period.

“Michigan needs jobs with good, competitive benefits and a salary that can support a family,” Vernuccio said. “Over the last decade, inflation-adjusted compensation in right-to-work states grew nearly 12 percent, compared to just 3 percent in forced unionism states.”

According to the Mackinac Center, right-to-work states saw an 11.3 percent increase in job opportunities for younger workers ages 25-34 between 2000 and 2011. It also suggests that the vast majority of the jobs that have been created during President Obama’s tenure have been in right-to-work states.

Not surprisingly, the unions are fighting back are not about to let Michigan’s right-to-work bill pass.

The Michigan AFL-CIO put out a press release Friday warning that passing a right-to-work law in the state would leave the state’s workers vulnerable to being taken advantage of by employers

“Every working person in Michigan should be concerned about the contents of this ‘right to work’ bill and question how quickly it is moving,” Rick Meeth, a teacher from Bay City, told the Michigan State AFL-CIO. “Whether you are a union member or not, employees in ‘right to work’ states average $1,500 less in wages per year and are less likely to have access to benefits through their job.”


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