COMMENTARY | As it is with any legislation, there will be some winners, and there will be some losers. As viewed through the eyes of this observer, Michigan becoming a right-to-work state will have only a few winners, and millions of losers. Having spent years in management sitting across the table from union representatives hammering out new contracts, I can only say that the right-to-work legislation being pushed through will wind-up being a Godsend to those sitting on the management side of the table.
If and when this legislation is signed, one should expect significant backlash. Union supporters have already laid siege to the capital and this effort is only just beginning. Expecting boycotts, walk-outs, protests, and even wildcat strikes in some areas will be standard operating procedure for a while, and these activities, although detrimental to managing day-to-day production and services, will lay the groundwork for the eventual erosion in expected wages and benefits for workers going forward as business owners begin to hire and fire under the new laws.
It is almost hard to fathom how at a time when worker productivity, corporate profits, and corporate cash reserves are at all time highs, that becoming a right-to-work state will help people find new employment at living wages. All evidence points to significantly reduced wages and benefits in right-to-work states as compared to their counterparts. The passage of this legislation is a victory for corporate profit and a loss for the average Michigan worker. Those supporting this legislation do so saying that it will help to bring jobs to the state. Generally speaking, these are the same individuals that support trickle-down economic policies that don’t work either as evidenced by still high unemployment and the ever-growing gap between the rich and the middle class.
Management labor negotiators are salivating at the prospect of this legislation being passed into law. Particularly damaging will be the part of the law that says that a person, although represented by the union, will no longer be required to pay union dues. This is a straight-forward divide-and-conquer strategy that will be played out in the unions for years to come. Make no mistake; Michigan becoming a right-to-work state is not an event that will unfold without repercussions. The passage of this legislation will effectively set Michigan on-its-ear for years to come as both management and union representatives feel their way through the newly established boundaries that this legislation creates.