President Barack Obama derailed a speech on the economy and the upcoming fiscal cliff in Redford, Mich. this afternoon to attack the Republicans for passing right-to-work legislation last week that will give workers the right to opt out of joining their industry’s union and keep their jobs.
After noting that investment in manufacturing like Daimler is making in Detroit Diesel Corp., where the President was making his speech, will create “good union jobs,” the President said that, “What we shouldn’t be doing is taking away your rights to bargain for better wages.”
Obama’s jab at the state’s Republican legislature, which passed a right-to-work last last Friday, was met with loud applause.
“ These so-called ‘right-to-work’ laws don’t have anything to do with economy, they have to do with politics,” he continued. “What they are really doing is giving you the right to work for less money.”
The President is incorrect that right-to-work laws take away workers’ abilities to bargain for better wages. Contract to the liberal line, workers who want to be part of their industry or organization’s union will still have the option to join. Right-to-work laws don’t ban unions. They merely make it illegal for businesses and unions to force employees to be a member of the union as a condition for hiring and firing. Furthermore, unions and union members will still have the ability to bargain for higher wages – right-to-work laws don’t change that. And non-union members are free to request higher wages from their bosses without being a member of a union: it’s called asking your boss for a raise.
“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 last month in a statement.
The Makinac Center would also disagree with the President’s statement that right-to-work laws are all about politics, not economics. The majority of jobs that have been created since Obama took office – especially for young workers – were in right-to-work states, Mackinac’s website notes.
The President and the White House had already come out against Michigan’s proposed law, which Republican Gov. Rick Snyder is expected to sign as early as tomorrow, however President Obama’s personal and public attack on right-to-work laws adds fuel to liberal activists’ fire hoping to make Michigan the next Wisconsin.
Although it was the President who claimed that Republicans’ effort to pass right-to-work laws had nothing to do with the economy and everything to with politics, it was the President who was playing politics instead of focusing on the economy in Michigan today.
Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly identified Michigan’s Governor.