Snyder signs right-to-work billsPublished 9:11pm Tuesday, December 11, 2012
Gov. Rick Snyder on Tuesday signed into law divisive right-to-work bills that ban mandatory membership in public-and-private sector unions amid protests outside the capital in Lansing.
The law allows workers to choose whether or not they want to join a union.
Opponents of the bill argue it would weaken unions, leading to lower wages and fewer benefits for workers.
Supporters of right to work say right-to-work bills make the state more competitive for jobs and give workers freedom.
The public sector bill passed Tuesday 58-51 in the Republican-led House, while the private sector bill passed 58-52. The Senate passed both bills last week.
Michigan will become the 24th state to pass freedom-to-choose legislation. Indiana became the 23rd state in August.
Snyder pointed out that while Michigan is recovering from its decade-long downturn, much work remains.
The governor also highlighted reforms being adopted in neighboring Indiana. That state enacted a right-to-work law earlier this year. The Indiana Economic Development Corp. (IEDC) recently reported that it already has worked with a record 220 companies this year that have decided to expand or set up operations in the state. In fact, 90 companies have told the IEDC that Indiana’s enactment of its right-to-work law will factor into their location decisions.
“Michigan has added 140,000 jobs during the last two years and we’re projected to add 110,000 more,” Snyder said. “But Michigan still lost over 750,000 jobs from 2000 to 2010. We still have a long road ahead of us and we can’t afford to fall behind other states. Giving workers the freedom to choose when it comes to union membership is good for individual workers and good for job providers. We’ll be a stronger, more vibrant state because of freedom-to-work, our improved tax structure, the balanced budget and other reforms that have put Michigan on the path to prosperity.”
Michigan’s laws do not prohibit unions or collective bargaining. Nor do they impact workplace health and safety regulations. They merely say that agreements between employers and unions cannot require public- or private-sector employees to join a union or pay union dues. The laws preserve the status afforded to police and firefighters under Public Act 312, which reflects the hazardous nature of their jobs.
The laws take effect 90 days after the Legislature adjourns.
John Proos, R-St. Joseph
“Freedom-to-choose means a brighter Michigan future with more jobs, robust economic growth and workers who can decide for themselves what do with their hard-earned dollars. Whether you support collective bargaining or not, every Michigan worker should have the freedom to choose what organizations they do or do not join or financially support.”
Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich.,
“(Gov. Snyder) is misleading Michigan voters when he says these bills are designed to protect workers from being required to join a union, or that they ‘give workers freedom to choose who they associate with.’ They already have those protections in current law, and after our meeting yesterday, Gov. Snyder full well knows it.”
U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich.
“As Michigan’s economy is recovering, we need to work together to build a stronger economy, not tear our state apart with divisive political issues. By passing this so-called ‘right to work’ bill, Michigan is taking a major step backward. It will mean lower wages and fewer benefits for every worker, and a poisoned political environment. That is why I have repeatedly urged Governor Snyder to veto these bills. If they become law, it will be a sad day in Michigan’s long history of labor and business working together to create jobs and build a strong middle class.”
State Rep. Matt Lori
“Workers should have the freedom to work any job in Michigan without being forced to pay for that right to work,” said Lori, R-Constantine. “Unions will have the freedom to make their case to workers, but workers should have the independence to choose not to join a union to keep their jobs.”
Gov. Rick Snyder
“We respect the fact that the freedom-to-work issue evokes strong emotions among supporters and opponents,” said Snyder, who supports collective bargaining. “That’s why we’ve focused on other reforms that are so critical to Michigan’s turnaround. But with this issue now on the table, it’s time to embrace the benefits that come with giving working men and women the freedom they deserve. The values of freedom, fairness and equality in the workplace should unite us all. And as states fiercely compete for jobs, this legislation will ensure that investors know Michigan is the place to do business.”
President Obama in Michigan Monday called the legislation “right to work for less money” and scolded lawmakers for trying “to take away your right to bargain for better wages.”