By Alberto Pupo
Michigan has fallen into the cesspool that is Right To Work Legislation. In a move that came as no surprise, Governor Rick Snyder, despite all the protests and inside the Capitol and outside his office. Despite the voices of the people asking for the Governor to do the right thing and Veto this piece of legislation, it went ahead and passed. This is devastating to a state like Michigan home of the auto industry. When it comes to Unions in the private sector most of those who are unionized work for the automakers in Detroit. The implementing of draconian legislation will now ensure that those in Unions in the state of Michigan will now suffer a great cut in wages and benefits as their corporate bosses will now basically be facing a rather toothless Unions rather than the powerful Unions that advanced the rights of workers in the state for so many years.
Strong Unions especially in the private sector and in the auto industry have been a trademark of the state of Michigan.The United Auto Workers Union was first established in 1935. Today they have 390,000 active members a good deal of them working for the major Auto workers in Michigan. Today the state of Michigan and its Republican leadership has struck a blow to this Union which will most likely lead to a massive decrease in benefits, pensions and of course wages. The Right to Work Legislation will make it impossible for workers to continue to join Unions and will virtually illegalize unions as has been the hallmark of Right to Work legislation. The Union worker in the auto industry makes average wage of $29 hour plus benefits (which conservatives erroneously inflate to $75 an hour average make it seem like an excessive wage). Yet this wage is still higher than non unionized automakers who average at around $12 -14 hour ( a typical “high wage” in a right to work state). Because Unions have actually been providing good wages and benefits Conservatives in Michigan felt that they needed to continue the grand trend of destroying Unions in this Nation especially in a private sector where they now only make up 6.9 percent of the labor force. Naturally the purpose pf this legislation is to give a Christmas bonus to the Executives at the Automakers meaning they can now slash wages and benefits legally while most likely pocketing more money for Executive Compensation.
Right to Work legislation is completely misleading. More often than not it is touted as a benefit not detriment to the worker. States with this type of legislation always want to claim that corporations bring in more jobs because lack of “evil unions”. Yes in some cases more jobs do materialize albeit low wage menial jobs which only add a further drag to the economy. Right to Work legislation practically ensures that there is no Collective Bargaining. This type of legislation makes sure that Corporate Owners can exploit their employees while fattening their wallets. Just look at the Deep South, most states in the South subscribe to the Right to Work charade and it workers are poorly paid with no benefits at all, and here comes the kicker the ability to get fired at the whim of management. The ability to fire with impunity is especially important to the Corporate Overlord who keeps their employees from asking for more money via threat of unlawful; termination (yet oddly protected by law). Now Michigan Auto workers are most likely going to face mass job buts and threats from Executives who have been waiting since 1935 to get this done.
This is a sad day for the people of Michigan. This also come as another blow during an era where union membership continues to decline because of abusive Right-Wing Legislation. Despite the people engaging in Wisconsin like protests, Snyder simply went ahead and decided to sign the legislation without regard to the negative impact that it will have on the worker. The only way to truly rebuke the regime that currently control Michigan is with a massive dose of strikes and of course ultimately remove Snyder at the ballot box.