Michigan will become the 24th state to enact right-to-work legislation. It's a controversial move and one which will be fought tooth and nail by unions and their allies in the Democratic Party. See Michigan Approves Curbs on Unions.
But let's review an editorial appearing today that spells out the issues clearly and succinctly. Worker Liberation in Michigan is worth taking the time to read in its entirety:
"The economic policy drift in Washington is antigrowth, but here and there in
the states are glimmers of hope and change. The best news of late is in
Michigan, which is poised this week to pass a landmark right-to-work law.
(The Big Labor opposition will employ a) familiar union political strategy:
Cause as big a ruckus as possible in hopes of making right to work seem radical
when it's already the law in nearly half the country.
We hope Republicans and Governor Rick Snyder aren't intimidated, because they
have the moral and policy high ground. Union activists want voters to believe
that right-to-work laws deny union organizing rights, or ban collective
bargaining. President Obama peddled this distortion on Monday in Redford,
Michigan, claiming that "what we shouldn't be doing is trying to take away your
rights to bargain for better wages and working conditions."
Right to work does no such thing. It empowers individual workers. As allowed
under the 1947 Taft-Hartley Act, right to work merely lets individual workers
choose for themselves if they want to join a union. The laws prevent closed
union shops, which coerce individual workers to join unions and to pay union
dues. A teacher who opts out under right to work, for example, could save
several hundred dollars in annual union dues that go to political causes he may
not even believe in.
Unions loathe right to work because they know that many workers would rather
not join a union. Americans have seen what happened to the auto and steel
industries, the Post Office and so many others. Unions can extract monopoly
wages and benefits for a time from a profitable industry, but often at the cost
of making that industry less competitive and eventually at the cost of union
jobs. Thus did Teamster work rules—cake and bread had to be delivered in
separate trucks—cost the bakery workers their jobs at Hostess. Right to work
gives workers a choice.
The Michigan law is a particular breakthrough because it comes in what used
to be America's industrial heartland and in a state where 17.5% of workers are
still unionized. Nationwide, the share is 11.8%, though only 6.9% in the private
economy. . . .
Michigan would become the 24th right-to-work state and it could be the best
thing to happen to its economy since the internal combustion engine. Michigan
still has the nation's sixth highest state jobless rate at 9.1%, and it had one
of the lowest rates of personal income growth between 1977 and 2011. A flood of
economic evidence shows that right-to-work states have done better at attracting
investment and jobs than have more heavily unionized states.
According to the West Michigan Policy Forum, of the 10 states with the
highest rate of personal income growth, eight have right-to-work laws. Those
numbers are driving a net migration from forced union states: Between 2000 and
2010, five million people moved to right-to-work states from compulsory union
Other policies (such as no income tax) play a role in such migration, so
economist Richard Vedder tried to sort out the variables. In the 2010 Cato
Journal, he wrote that "without exception" he found "a statistically significant
positive relationship" between right to work and net migration.
Mr. Vedder also found a 23% higher rate of per capita income growth in
right-to-work states. An analysis by the Taxpayers Protection Alliance finds
that Michigan is now the 35th state in overall prosperity measured by per capita
income. Had Michigan adopted a right-to-work law in 1977, the group estimates,
per capita income for a family of four would have been $13,556 higher by 2008.
As impressive as all of this evidence is, the best case for right to work is
moral: the right of an individual to choose. Union chiefs want to coerce workers
to join and pay dues that they then funnel to politicians who protect union
power. Right to work breaks this cycle of government-aided monopoly union power
for the larger economic good."
Right-to-Work should be the law of the land. With Michigan signing on, it will be the law of 24 states.
President Obama and the union leadership are wrong.
Personal choice is an essential American liberty.
There is a huge difference between being pro-worker and anti-union.
And right-to-work will help to make our employers, including the public sector segment, much more productive and marketplace competitive.
So let's allow employees to decide for themselves whether to join and pay dues to a union.
That personal freedom of choice is one of our most fundamental American liberties.