Right to Work in Michigan is part of a national campaign to defund unions. Smaller unions benefit the corporations that fund the movement. Cutting membership also reduces organized labor’s ability to raise political contributions for those (most often Democratic) candidates who support public education.
In recent years the battle to reduce union influence has spread across states that have traditionally represented union strongholds. In Wisconsin, Governor Scott Walker succeeded in nearly eliminating public sector collective bargaining. Indiana expanded it’s public sector right to work law in 2012. Governor John Kasich failed in outlawing public sector bargaining only after a referendum was approved at the polls the same year. The Pennsylvania-based Commonwealth Foundation announced it hopes to “slay” unions, following the lead in Wisconsin and Michigan.
In Michigan, a “death by a thousand cuts” approach was used. Since taking office, Governor Rick Snyder has:
- Cut public education to give businesses $1.8 billion in tax cuts.
- Removed seniority as a factor in layoff and recalls.
- Gave Emergency Managers unlimited power to change working conditions, reduce salary and benefits and void contracts.
- Taxed school employees’ retirement.
- Gutted Tenure Act
- Tied teacher evaluation to student performance, prohibited bargaining.
- Mandated a 20 percent health insurance premium payment.
- Eliminated the cap on charter schools
- Ended bargaining for retroactive insurance payments and step increases.
- Increased the teacher probationary period and made it easier to dismiss probationary teachers.
- Made teacher assignment, layoff/recall and discipline/discharge prohibited bargaining subjects.
- Attempted to end payroll dues deduction.
- Enacted Right to work
The prohibition against payroll dues deduction was adopted the day after Proposal 2 was announced. It applies only to union deductions, and not to any other payroll deduction, eliminating any argument that the ban was put into place to save school funds. The ban was punishment for opposing the government’s policies. It is currently suspended while an MEA lawsuit is under appeal.
In the 2010 campaign cycle, of the top ten outside groups funding congressional campaigns, only three were affiliated with unions: SEIU, AFSCME and the NEA. All of the others, the US Chamber of Commerce; American/Crossroads GPS; The Club for Growth; the NRA; etc., promote the interests of corporations. If the unions ability to compete at these levels is reduced (or eliminated), only corporations will remain to fund these campaigns.
By the 2012 elections, only the SEIU was in the top ten. AFSCME had fallen to 13th and the NEA to 34th. The loss of membership has had an impact on both national and local elections.
Next: THE COMING ATTACK