Michigan right to work laws pass
Michigan has been the scene of protests as a proposal was introduced to make the state a “right to work” state wherein a person cannot legally be denied employment because of membership or non-membership in a labor union or other labor organization.
Referring to the protests as “an exercise in democracy,” Michigan Governor Rick Snyder has signed into legislation “right to work” laws, hours after the House passed the measure with a 58 to 51 vote, to the sound of roughly 12,000 protesters on the steps of the Capitol, led by Reverend Jesse Jackson.
Gov. Snyder pointed out a failed ballot proposal to preserve collective bargaining rights in the constitution that led to right to work debate, which led to the proposal which has now passed, making Michigan a right to work state.
Organized labor has been a part of Michigan life for much of its existence, and 17.5 percent of the workforce is unionized in the state, which is why many believed the law would not pass.
Next steps: national scene shifting and a referendum?
In Michigan, there is a “statutory initiative” which would be allowed if opponents of a bill can collect enough signatures to equal 8.0 percent of the votes cast in the last gubernatorial election, voters would be permitted to cast a ballot on the right to work legislation in November 14, and a veto referendum would be allowed if signatures collected equal 5.0 percent of the votes cast. Critics of the right to work laws assert that the battle is not over.
Michigan joins Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, and Wyoming as right to work states, which offers a mixed look at local economies ranging from the terrible housing crash in Nevada to the healthy economy in Texas.
“Michigan could prove defining,” said Harley Shaiken, a labor expert at UC Berkeley told The LA Times. “What happens here, given the role of unions historically in Michigan, and the larger political implications of right-to-work, will mean a lot.”