In Lansing, look for the union label
Michigan taxpayers may not realize it yet, but they’re being involuntarily organized into the service of labor unions.
The Democratic lawmakers and governor they’ve entrusted with full control of Lansing are moving at rapid speed to turn state government into a Big Labor adjunct, breathing fire into a movement that had all but exhausted its appeal to Michigan workers.
Don’t be surprised if you see Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Democratic legislative leaders standing outside businesses passing out union sign-up cards. That’s how over-the-top is the capitulation to the labor agenda.
Democrats are determined to return Michigan to its status as the labor capital of America. The timing for this huge pro-union shift is particularly worrisome, coming as the state is competing for a dominant place in the new automotive future.
In general, the companies looking for homes for electric vehicle facilities are not keen on dealing with unions and prefer places where policymaking has a pro-business bent.
That, soon, will not be Michigan.
There now seems no way to keep Democrats, who hold mere two-vote majorities in the House and the Senate, from walking Michigan off the right-to-work dock.
Repeal of the worker pro-choice law will likely pass this week, putting Michigan back into the column of states that forbid employees from opting out of compulsory union membership. Democrats are casting this as a blow for worker freedom. But forcing employees to join a union and have dues deducted from their paychecks against their will does not meet any definition of freedom.
Nor does making the repeal of the 10-year-old law bullet-proof from the will of the voters. Lawmakers included a shady funding appropriation in the proposed measure, protecting it from being altered by a ballot referendum.
This is a tactic Whitmer herself declared offensive in 2019 when she issued an executive directive stating her intent “to veto legislation that circumvents the right to a referendum.”
Now, on right to work, she’s dancing to labor’s tune.
Right to work is just one piece of a union wish list Democrats are dutifully checking off. Next up is repeal of the prevailing wage law, which requires contractors to give union-scale paychecks to workers on a state-funded project, whether or not they’re in a union.
Lawmakers are also working on a bill removing the cap on political donations made by unions — but not by business groups. That’s an especially self-serving piece of work, considering that nearly all union political donations go to Democrats.
Another bill would put taxpayers on the hook for union dues. Starting with this tax year, fees paid to unions would qualify for a refundable state tax credit.
At the behest of the Michigan Education Association, the Legislature is preparing to repeal the law which requires third-graders to be proficient in reading before advancing to fourth grade.
Consider that just 14% of Michigan workers belong to a labor union. And yet 100% of the policymaking in Lansing is being done for labor’s benefit.
The real damage of these various pieces of legislation comes from the message they’ll send to investors and job creators.
As former Gov. Rick Snyder wrote in an op-ed on these pages (recently), Michigan may as well erect “Closed for Business” signs at all its entry points.