Statement from MEA President Steve Cook on deceptive ’Freedom to Freeload’ bill
EAST LANSING, Mich., Dec. 6, 2012 — Gov. Rick Snyder and Republican leadership today announced they would push so-called “right-to-work” bills that include public and private workers while carving out exemptions for police and firefighters. Swift legislative action on these bills is already underway. The following statement can be attributed to Michigan Education Association President Steve Cook:
“As time is ticking on the lame duck Legislature, extremist politicians are in a hurry to continue their assault on working families while exacting political revenge against union members who didn’t support their bids for reelection. Today’s swift announcement, introduction and subsequent passage of so-called ‘right-to-work’ legislation is just another political attack on Michigan’s middle class, and it does nothing to help dig our state out of an economic hole.
“We elected leaders who we thought would work together to create jobs, steer our economy back to fiscal strength, and restore the American Dream for the middle class. Instead, Governor Snyder and his allies in the Legislature are fulfilling their extremist agenda by going after working families—setting the wrong priorities and making the wrong choices.
“Let’s be clear. This legislation is not about improving the economy or creating jobs—this is political payback that puts big corporations and special-interest CEOs before Michigan’s working families. In states with so-called ‘right-to-work’ laws, workers make an average of $1,500 less per year, 21 percent more people lack health insurance and workplace deaths are 51 percent higher than states without the law. On average, workers in ‘right-to-work’ states have a lower standard of living, bring home less pay and go without health insurance more frequently. That hurts small businesses as consumer spending is reduced, causing a ripple effect that will further hurt Michigan’s economy.
“Worst of all is the utter lies about what this does. No one is forced to join a union – that’s already illegal. This allows workers to get out of paying their fair share of what it costs to negotiate the contract they benefit from. Whether proponents call this ‘right-to-work’ or ‘freedom-to-work’, it’s really just ‘Freedom to Freeload.’
“This deceptive and divisive concept will not help Michigan’s economy get back on track. As we have seen in other states like Ohio and Wisconsin, everyone gets hurt when politicians put their agendas ahead of the people who elected them. Instead of distractions that silence the voices of workers, our elected leaders should focus on finding ways to create more jobs, help struggling families and get our state’s economy moving again.”
Contact: Doug Pratt, MEA Director of Public Affairs, 517-337-5566