LANSING, Mich – Union workers want the conversation about right to work to end before it even hits the floor of the legislature.
Union workers packed into the state capitol building Wednesday, protesting a bill that they think is being rushed.
“In every state with right-to-work, you’ve got lower wages, less time off, less benefits, less retirement,’ Bob King, UAW President said. “Right-to-work is wrong for working families.”
Right-to-work means workers could not be required to join a union or pay union dues at a place of employment. It’s something opponents argue is already illegal.
Democratic state Representative Brandon Dillon says there’s always been a discussion about right-to-work in Michigan.
“Unfortunately that fringe element seems to have taken hold in the governor’s office in the last couple days,” Dillon said. “The governor previously said this was not on his agenda.”
Tuesday, Governor Snyder admitted right-to-work is on the agenda. Dillon said the late push by Republicans seems to be political retribution after Proposal 2 failed in the November election. Proposal 2 would have put the right to collective bargaining in the state constitution.
“I feel like, because they have a lame duck session, they’re going to ram it through without any committee hearings, without any public discussion,” Dillon said.
“I think there’s a lot of outside pressure from big investors of the Republican Party, particularly people like Dick DeVos, who’s made it a priority to say that he wants right-to-work in Michigan, and you’ve got a lot of members on the Republican side who are going to do what people like that want them to do.”
Republicans, who control the state senate, house, and the governor’s office, say the conversation about right-to-work gained momentum after Proposal 2 failed.
However, the house speaker’s spokesperson says it’s not about politics, it’s about giving workers a choice. “The idea of a worker having the freedom to choose whether they support or don’t support an organization or belong to or don’t belong to an organization is very important,” Ari Adler said. “And we respect the hard-working people of Michigan, and they’re trying to raise their families and support their families and they should be able to find the best job they can anywhere and not be forced to join an organization in order to keep a job.”
If the discussion turns into legislation, Democrats say they’ll do everything they can to stop it, including a filibuster.