How will Indiana influence RTW in Michigan?
It would be in our best interest to monitor the "Right To Work For Less" (RTW) movement in neighboring Indiana since several Republican legislators have already said, "As Indiana goes, so goes Michigan." Indiana would be the 23rd state to impose RTW, which allows workers to benefit from negotiated contracts without paying their fair share.
In 1995, the Indiana Legislature passed a RTW law for teachers. The current proposal would expand to include all workers. Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels is leading the charge on the issue now with commercials. Hearings on the proposed bill are currently underway. On the first day of session, House Democrats protested the legislation by choosing not to attend sessions and denying a quorum for voting. Thousands are expected to protest at the Statehouse despite the imposition of new security regulations and capacity limits. In addition to other labor groups, the NFL Players Association has come out in opposition to the legislation--the Super Bowl will be played in Indianapolis on Feb. 5.
Unlike Daniels, Gov. Snyder believes RTW is too divisive an issue and says he doesn't have it on his agenda. However, as sponsor of a potential House bill on RTW, Rep. Mike Shirley (R-Clarklake) has been vocal in his desire to see Michigan follow Indiana's lead because he claims that Indiana is a tough competitor for jobs. He's hoping his rationale can persuade Snyder to change his mind
"We need to remove the issue as an objection businesses have when considering whether to move to Michigan. The law wouldn't prohibit unions or keep people from joining unions, but those who did not want to pay for the union's services would no longer be forced to pay," Shirley said.
Workers already have that choice and can choose not to be in the union and not pay union dues. Instead, they pay an agency fee which covers a worker's share of the cost--their fair share.
Studies, like the one published by the Economic Policy Institute, prove there is no credible evidence that right-to-work states create more jobs and provide the labor freedom Shirley talks about. This is just another attack on unions that takes away the middle class' opportunity to earn a decent wage and work in a safe environment.
Supporters of RTW include House Speaker Jase Bolger and the Mackinac Center. The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) has made RTW a top legislative priority. The Michigan Chamber of Commerce does not yet have a formal position a potential RTW fight here in Michigan.