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Tuesday, December 11, 2012


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I think you do a disservice by not putting this in the context of the unions' failed attempt to use a petition enabled initiative to amend the Michigan constitution to ban right to work and generally add to pro-union legal provisions. This was defeated, and the Republican legislature then declared that a referendum on right to work and passed this law. Unions in Michigan have also worked to undermine the emergency manager laws that allow the state to restructure financially troubled local governments. (Gov. Snyder's strengthened law on this was in fact repealed by voters). This was not some passive strike out of the blue. These unions are big boys who know how to play power politics and have done it for a long time.

Also re:Ohio, if the unions are now irrelevant, how are they able to defeat both the governor and the legislature in a high dollar, high profit statewide referendum? That shows their continued clout right there. Public sector unions in particular continue to inhibit needed reforms in Illinois and across the nation.

Aaron........You may be right on the merits here -- who threw the first stone in this battle, for instance. My point is that powering this right-to-work law through the Legislature is dumb politics by the Republicans. The Ohio vote you cite is Exhibit A. On a state level, gerrymandered districts leave Republicans in most states in a strong, if not unassailable, position. On a national level, as we saw last month, the Republicans have problems, and statements by their leaders since then show they know it. They have large blocs of voters that they simply have to woo back. It seems an extraordinarily bad them for them to go out of their way to alienate yet another bloc, one that they had successfully penetrated in recent years. I can't imagine that national GOP leaders are thrilled by the news from Lansing.

Prop 2 may not have been a wise move on the part of Michigan labor, but right to work proponents have been laying the groundwork for this since at least the winter of 2011, after Snyder's election and that of Republican majorities in both houses of the Michigan legislature. I suspect that the real impetus for this was the results of the 2012 election, given that the new legislature was less favorable. To say that Prop 2 led to right-to-work could be a bit of post hoc, ergo propter hoc reasoning.

And as for the emergency manager law that Aaron Renn referred to, the Michigan legislature just passed another one that's substantively the same as the one that was repealed. With an appropriation, so it can't be repealed via referendum like last time.

With all the hubbub, its important to remember that private sector unions are basically extinct (last I looked only 5-8 pct of private sector jobs are unionized) basically insignificant in the big picture,

"Right to work" is more of a political tool enabling conservatives to continue to use unions as a scapegoat (by tearing them down they are trying to project an image of progress), Allowing for its constituency to ignore the real problems such as the nation wide decline of educational attainment, crumbling infrastructure, decline in personal health, increasing wealth gap, climate change, etc.. Because as we all know, the real enemy to our countries future is employee benefits.

Once unions have been killed off completely the conservative blame machine will find a new target.

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