Monday, August 18, 2008

Would Right-to-Work Legislation Bring Michigan's Economy Back?

In past newsletters, I have discussed the issue of "Right-to-work." I introduced this legislation because I truly believe it would revolutionize the economy in Michigan and make this state a jobs magnet. I have enclosed a copy of an article from Gary Glenn, who had personal involvement with the issue in Idaho some years ago. I have also attached a link to an article from the Mackinac Center for Pubic Policy which is very enlightening. I hope the day will come soon when the Michigan legislature will act on this concept that twenty-two other states have embraced.

Right to Work is more than economics
by Gary Glenn  for Michigan Business Review
Thursday August 14, 2008

I led the Idaho Right to Work effort for six years, culminating in the successful 1986 ballot campaign in which Idaho voters approved a Right to Work law, despite our being outspent 3 to 1 by union officials intent on defending the "pay up or you're fired" system of job discrimination against employees who choose not to join or pay dues to a labor union. Right to Work is more than just an economic development issue, on which the proof is both overwhelming and conclusive. Idaho (1986) and Oklahoma (2001) roared into first place nationally in both job and income growth within two years of enacting Right to Work.
As the only Right to Work state in the Great Lakes, Michigan would become an economic powerhouse overnight as industry in the region rushed to relocate.

But even moreso, it's an individual freedom and freedom of conscience issue, even a moral issue.

One example: Polls in 2004 showed that two-thirds of union households in Michigan voted in favor of the Marriage Protection Amendment, constitutionally protecting one man, one woman marriage. Yet national and state AFL-CIO officials formally opposed and spent their members' compulsory dues money campaigning against both the state and federal marriage amendments.

Thus, tens of thousands of Michiganians, who voted in favor of constitutionally protecting traditional marriage, are compelled as a condition of employment to financially support a private organization that lobbies and campaigns against their moral and religious convictions. That's just one of the many issues on which union officials campaign at odds with the views of individual employees compelled to finance those activities.

Should every person in Michigan be free to hold a job whether they belong to or support a private labor organization or not? Of course they should. Should it be illegal to discriminate against and fire an individual on the basis of membership or nonmembership in, or financial support or non-support of, a labor union or any other private organization, either way? Of course it should.

And if Right to Work should end up on some future election ballot, union officials will have a hard time convincing Michigan voters that Alabama or Texas or Florida or Arizona or Iowa or Tennessee or Nevada are poverty-stricken Third World-style economies.

If Right to Work is presented primarily as a Big Business issue, the corporate boardroom's plan for economic recovery, the advantage will remain with union officials.

But if it is presented as a worker's issue - with the helpful side-benefit that it will likely attract hundreds of thousands of new jobs to Michigan - then it may have a shot of surviving union officials' compulsory-dues-financed $50 million ballot campaign advertising gauntlet.

Outlawing job discrimination on the basis of union affiliation is philosophically, morally and politically justifiable, even if it had no effect on Michigan's economy. At the same time, no single change in public policy would more dramatically or immediately reverse Michigan's ongoing economic decline.

Gary Glenn is president of the American Family Association of Michigan. He lives in Midland.

Get more information about this issue here and here.

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