Unfortunately, living in a “right to work” state doesn’t mean that you have a right to work. It doesn’t even mean that you have a right not to join a union. No one ever has to join a union.
It means that you don’t have to pay for union representation in collective bargaining even when the majority of the workers in their company have democratically voted to be represented by the union.
The union still bargains for you. It helps you get a good salary, paid holidays and a health plan. Members of the union sometimes even go out on strike to make sure you get these benefits.
But when it’s time to pay the piper,
Progressive commenters reeling from the “right to work” defeat in Michigan have in turns unmasked and (grudgingly) admired proponents of the new law. The unmasking is fairly easy. Michigan governor Rick Snyder actually unmasked himself. After claiming that he was a moderate who would avoid polarizing fights, he pounced on the opportunity to jam “right to work” through a lame duck legislative session. And the policy itself is not hard to expose. “Right to work” is portrayed by proponents as freeing unwilling workers from paying union dues. But as many critics have pointed out, its wealthy proponents’ main purpose is to hobble labor by allowing some workers not to pay for the representation and protection unions are legally obligated to provide them.
As for the admiration, well, there is much to be learned from the planning and persistence of the rich donors and think tanks for whom spreading “right to work” laws beyond the former Confederacy has long been an aspiration.
Many of us felt a Capra-esque glow the morning after Election Day, happy that the Little Guy had triumphed over Big, Dark Money. And, to be honest, there was also more than a little schadenfreude to go around – what, with the spectacle of so many right-wing billionaires wasting so much money on their Cro-Magnon candidates. There’s a danger, though, in assuming their losses had taken the fight out of these tycoons – or that their lost millions somehow weakened their future political clout.
The fact is that the hundreds of millions of dollars spent on 2012 elections by the Koch brothers, Jerry Perenchio and others were little more than paper cuts to these men. They could probably recoup all their losses in a day by raising the cost of the oil they refine, or the price of plywood they sell, by an eighth of a cent. Every time you or I fill up our gas tanks or otherwise patronize one of the thousands of enterprises owned by conservative billionaires,
It seems appropriate that after Michigan Governor Rick Snyder (R) shepherded through the state House and Senate the right-wing extremist and corporate CEO backed “right to work” for less legislation—that he had long-called “too divisive to pursue”—without any public input, that he would sign the measure in secret Tuesday.
With as many as 15,000 people swarming the state Capitol in Lansing denouncing Snyder and the legislature for bowing to the likes of the Koch brothers, Grover Norquist, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and the extremes of the Republican Party, Snyder retreated behind closed doors to sign the legislation and, only after the fact, announced his signature. Here are some details of the legislation that, if it follows the pattern of “right to work” laws in other states, will lower the standard of living for Michigan workers.
On the day North Korea launched a missile this week, the virulently anti-labor website Union Facts splashed a banner on its home page that likened union membership to living in North Korea. This was December 11, when a lame-duck legislature turned Michigan into a right-to-work state — banning unions from collecting fees or dues from workers as a prerequisite for working in unionized shops. (In a shrewdly divisive ploy, Republican bill-sponsors exempted police and firefighter unions from the law.)
In this week’s tightly scripted political theater, Lansing’s two legislative houses raced through their synchronized movements as though the capitol were afire. Later, hitting his marks on cue, Governor Rick Snyder emerged from the wings to sign this coup d’etat into law. (To think, only a few months ago the New York Times was giving Snyder the Profiles in Courage treatment, portraying him as that mythical unicorn of a politician,