Big labor having its way in Lansing

The new Legislature, ruled by thin Democratic majorities in each chamber and conducted by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, has already handed over enormous power to unions in this term. What’s still on the union wish list is even more egregious.

In passing the repeal of right to work, Democrats in Michigan have put the state on a backward course economically. But their aggressive union agenda has only just begun.

“We have to be worried and on guard that this majority seems hell-bent on ramming through the priorities of the unions,” House Minority Leader Matt Hall told The Detroit News editorial board. “They’ve been chomping at the bit to do this for 40 years. Now this is their chance.”

Democrats have already passed the repeal of the right-to-work law, depriving Michigan of a competitive tool for luring jobs and investment. Well on their way to final adoption are bills to make union dues fully tax refundable and to lift the cap on union political donations.

Now, Democrats are squabbling internally over bills that include language to allow teachers unions to collectively bargain over a list of issues currently off-limits to negotiation.

Included are decisions such as when the school term should start and permitting teachers to call a strike in the middle of the school year, something currently illegal under Michigan law.

Teachers would also gain the power to get rid of an emergency manager if a school is bankrupt; to decide whether districts should permit school choice, and if a consolidation of districts should be undertaken.

This would be an enormous win for the Michigan Education Association, the most influential force in the Capitol at the moment.

Fortunately, school superintendents and and other education groups have managed to keep these extreme measures from coming to a vote.

And rightfully so. Teachers should have a voice in how schools run, but they shouldn’t run them.

In addition, a prevailing wage substitute bill was eventually pulled back that would have required companies that receive state subsidies or tax abatements to also pay union wages, whether or not their workers were organized.

A few Democratic lawmakers, who broke ranks with their caucus on these more extreme measures, have spared Michigan from complete capitulation to the union agenda. But the fight continues.

Lots of bad policymaking is going on in Lansing, and its transactional nature can’t be ignored. Freeing unions from campaign finance limits while at the same time foisting onto taxpayers the cost of their dues will enrich unions and provide them with more cash to shower on Democratic politicians.

No consideration is given to the impact of turning over schools to the MEA, or of placing union interests ahead of sound economic policy.

There’s suddenly a wide opening in Lansing, and Democrats are going to exploit it until it closes. And it will. Voters eventually recognize such self-dealing for what it is.

“We’ll look back at this time as when the Democrat Party put the priorities of these union bosses over workers and taxpayers,” Hall said.

It’s a shame, but he’s right.


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