Right-To-Work Reaction From West Michigan Union Leader

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.- Paul Helder, president of the Grand Rapids Education Association, spent Tuesday in Lansing in the middle of all of the right-to-work chaos. When he returned to West Michigan, he shared his thoughts about Governor Rick Snyder signing it into law.

“I think the first question: ‘Is it going to stand up?’” Helder said. “I know there are a host of legal challenges that are expected. the fact that they carved out police and fire, two groups that sometimes support Republicans with their political donations makes it suspect. Republicans have already lost one fight like this in District Court.”

But he also is aware that it very well could be a reality.

“It says the union has to continue providing these expensive services for people but they can choose not to pay, but then somebody else in the union has to pay,” Helder said. “So it creates a parasitic kind of situation where some individuals will then kind of essentially live off of their colleagues.”

On the flip side, president of West Michigan Policy Forum, Jared Rodriguez said right-to-work will be good for Michigan. “Freedom to work … is something we’ve been advocating for since 2008 when our grassroots forum of over 600 individuals told us that this was the strategic priority for Michigan to help keep our state moving forward.”

10 comments

  • JSA

    Hey Mr. Helder, you fail to mention that right now the MEA forces workers to pay Union dues…. creating a parasitic situation. So, why isn't that wrong? Why doesn't someone in the media question comments made by people they interview to bring a balanced news story?

  • DVV

    JSA your logic fails me. If you believe that employee wages and benefits would be anything close to what they are here in Michigan today without union help, you are some kind of stupid. So you have the people paying for the union to help them bargain for these wages and benefits and then you have the people that don't believe they should have to pay. Perhaps a Walmart Rollback in wages would be appropriate for these leaches. Let them work, but let them work for the wages – pre-union involvement. Oh that's right JSA, before unions got involved in banding the employees together, people were just barely scraping by…except for the business owners. You need a dose of reality or go move down to a right to work state down south and take that huge pay and benefit cut.

    • LEG

      You say their wages wouldn't be what they are without the union. Well I have lost money every year since being forced into the mea. Less wages less benefits, less paid holidays, than I had when I started. They do nothing for me and I'm sick of giving them my money for nothing.

  • SRL

    Paul, Your logic about paying dues is very accurate and makes total sense….other people living off the payment of some….just not fair. But, how is it that it escapes you that the same thing is going on with Obama Care? It's ok that Obama care was shoved down our throats but now that right to work is shoved down your throat you don't like it. Do you realize how hypocritical you are? You whine about the idea of social sharing when it effects you but it's ok for the other guy? Pull your head out !

  • bobbyboy

    I am not currently nor ever have been a member of a union. The right-to-work legislation seems like a good idea (in theory). If the union benefits are as good as stated, then people will have no problems paying their dues. This would also be a good way to alleviate some bloat in the unions themselves. I think that the fear is going to be that fewer new employees will choose to join a union. As such, the unions will dissolve over time; and the process will start over again. Once the workers are fed up with harsh conditions or bad pay, they'll form a union. Now if I can get a typical dues-paying union member to comment, i'd much appreciate any additional insight from their perspective.

    • Union Member

      If it was about purchasing union benefits, I would agree with your perspective. It isn't. Right to work doesn't give people the choice between being a member who pays dues for services they paid for and being a non-member who pays nothing and receives no services — it gives people the choice between being a member who pays dues for services they paid for and being a non-member who pays no dues BUT STILL RECEIVES SERVICES PROVIDED BY THE UNION AND PAID FOR BY THEIR CO-WORKERS.

      Sound great? The catch is that if less than half of the possible members choose to pay, the union can no longer represent the workplace, and no one gets any services or benefits. In other words, it creates an incentive for half of the people in the workplace to act as parasites on the other half, and creates workplace strife.

      • bobbyboy

        Thanks for your perspective, I can see why this can be a bad thing for current union members. I'm pretty un-informed when it comes to union benefits. What services are provided by the union? The only one that I'm familiar with is collective bargaining.

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