Union chants echoed off the Capitol dome before the Republican-controlled state Legislature's courageous vote on the right-to-work bill: "Whose house?" "Our house!"
Not anymore. The Capitol now belongs to all the people of Michigan.
60 years or so, labor unions have dominated policymaking and politics
in this state. Even as their membership dwindled to a sliver of the work
force — 17 percent — their stifling influence over Lansing kept
Michigan from adopting the common-sense reforms that would have made it
more competitive for jobs and investment.
Competitiveness is what
Gov. Rick Snyder is all about. His decision to lead the right-to-work
push stemmed from his desire to give Michigan every advantage possible
in competing with other states for economic development. It was not, as
his critics charge, a capitulation to big money GOP interests or a
hypocritical betrayal of his commitment to relentless positive action.
The only hypocrisy at work is labor's wailing that Snyder broke his pledge to avoid divisive issues.
two years, Snyder has been trying to raise Michigan from the ruins of
the union-backed Granholm administration. He's put in place policies to
improve the state's attractiveness to job creators and made better use
of precious taxpayer dollars. He's fought to keep the burden of today's
spending from breaking the backs of future generations.
unions have fought him every inch of the way. They've sued him when he
tried to save Detroit from fiscal oblivion. They sued him when he sought
to bring public employee benefits in line with those of private-sector
taxpayers. They hit him with a costly referendum to undo his agenda.
They've instructed their Democratic puppets in the Legislature and on
the Detroit City Council to oppose him on every significant measure he's
Yet now they claim it's Snyder who is dividing Michigan.
Labor and Democrats had a chance to work with the least partisan
Michigan governor ever to fix the state, and instead they chose to
fight. And they lost.
They lost in large part because they no
longer have the hearts of Michigan's citizens. Those 83 percent who
don't belong to unions, but have had to live under their political
dictates, handed the union's power-grabbing Prop 2 a huge defeat in
November, paving the way for right-to-work.
have watched for decades as union intransigence drove jobs from this
state and kept new jobs out. They bear the unfairness of having to
sacrifice public safety and other services to pay for absurd public
employee pensions that they'll never enjoy themselves. They see through
the hysterical, false claims that this bill will destroy unions and end
collective bargaining and wonder why unions are so afraid of giving
their members a choice.
And they don't buy that unions hold the key to the middle class.
recent years, the labor movement has been a primary force in killing
middle-class jobs. Yet we're supposed to maintain fealty to the movement
because it supposedly created the middle class.
Republican president freed the slaves. But in the last election, 93
percent of African American voters cast their ballots for a Democrat.
Times change. Right-to-work will allow Michigan to change, too — into a state that works for all its citizens.