If you thought President Obama’s resounding victory in the elections last month would signal the end of Republican attacks on trade unions in the USA, think again. Over the last two years, Republicans in Indiana, Ohio, Wisconsin and elsewhere have tried to roll back workers’ rights to have their wages negotiated collectively. And now they’re trying the same in Michigan, attempting to make it a “right to work” state – or as the unions call it, the “right to work for less!”
You can join in the union campaign against this latest attempt to slash terms and conditions by signing an online petition. In opposing the new law, you’ll be joining President Obama and AFLCIO President Rich Trumka, as well as unions representing professional American football and baseball players. You can keep up with developments on twitter using #SaveMI or by following @MIAFLCIO
“Right to work” laws are most common in the southern states where unions have traditionally been weak, but have only recently started to spread to the mid-west: there are already 23 states with such laws in place. Unions are forced by law to protect all workers, even those who don’t contribute financially toward the expenses incurred by providing those protections.
“Study after study has demonstrated the devastating effects of this sort of legislation: workers in ‘right-to-work’ states make $1,500 less per year, meanwhile the growth rate for ‘right-to-work’ states actually drops after legislation of this sort is enacted.”
Learning from the long, drawn-out campaigns in states like Wisconsin, which did significant electoral damage to the Republican party, Michigan Republicans - who have controlled the state since the Tea Party high of 2010 – rushed the law through both houses of the state legislature in record time, with voting in the House and the Senate on the same day, and without public hearings or public consultation. Just days before, Governor Snyder had said he had no view on the measure, and earlier in the year he said “we have many problems in Michigan that are much more pressing.”
So this is an attack on democracy itself, as well as workers’ rights. Please add your voice to the online petition and encourage friends to do so too. So support the Michigan trade union movement who took to the streets on Thursday to protest (they had to go to court to get access to the state capitol building), and won’t rest until the law is scrapped or the Republicans pay the price at the ballot box.