This Labor Day, Michigan union bosses have much to celebrate. Rank-and-file employees? Not as much.
Earlier this year, Michigan became a pioneer in regressivity by becoming the first state in 58 years to repeal a right-to-work law, forcing employees in union workplaces to join the unions as a condition of keeping their jobs. The impending change means more control and power in the hands of the unions, literally at the expense of Michigan employees.
What does this mean for employees? Well, the money for union dues comes from them. And more money out of employees’ pockets means more money into the campaign coffers of politicians the union bosses support.
Michiganders of all stripes churn the butter, but unions butter the bread of one political party. Right-to-work repeal passed both houses of the Legislature by a party-line vote. It was signed into law by a governor from the same party.
Polling showed a large majority of Michiganders opposed the change. Even union members opposed it. Why wouldn’t they? Under the existing right-to-work law, Michigan employees in a unionized shop had the choice of whether to join the union. They had the right to keep their own paycheck intact and not pay union dues as they prioritized their own finances.
They also had the right to withhold their money if they felt a union was engaging in political advocacy that was opposed to their own beliefs. In light of the mission creep besetting many unions, the likelihood of that happening has been increasing. And given the partisan divide in this nation, perhaps half of Michigan employees would reject the unions’ monolithic political spending on one party.
Under right to work, Michigan employees also had the right to vote with their paycheck for or against a union based on the quality of its services. As a result, unions had an incentive to provide services their memberships wanted. With repeal, that incentive will, for all practical purposes, disappear.
Think about the absurdity of it: Unionized Michiganders will be forced to fork over a portion of their paycheck to a private third party. Except for government sector employees. The U.S. Supreme Court in Janus v. AFSCME ruled that all government sector employees do have right to work. A double standard?
In short, the repeal stripping Michigan employees of their choice to disassociate with unions is Exhibit A in the case against union legislative influence. Common sense told you employees would prefer a “my paycheck, my choice” approach, and citizens in general oppose the change. Yet the majority in the Legislature steamrolled these folks.
While the union empire appears to have won, pockets of resistance are about to break out all over the state. The right-to-work law had made it illegal for employees to be forced to pay union dues in order to keep their jobs. Now, with repeal, the best way to avoid union dues will be to remove the union from a job site altogether.
Michigan employees affected by this law don’t have to put up with this violation of their freedom of association. They don’t need to pay dues to a forced-membership organization. They don’t have to keep supporting a union’s radical political agendas. They don’t have to watch a portion of their paychecks going to pay for union oligarchies out of state. They certainly don’t need to pay for fancy dinners, cars, vacations, and political junkets and pad the pockets of union bosses.
By tossing out the union altogether, employees can keep their money in their own hands and out of the hands of political machines and their elected attendants.
The Center for Independent Employees, which assists employees seeking to prevent unionization at the workplace or remove an unwanted union, is already hearing rumblings of this revolution through our offices and our ground game in Michigan.
If employees feel they’re not getting much in exchange for their dues, then the union bosses standing over their bank accounts demanding a handout are just bums. It’s time to throw the bums out.
The Daily Signal publishes a variety of perspectives. Nothing written here is to be construed as representing the views of The Heritage Foundation.
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