Freiheit zu Arbeiten: Freedom to Work? December 6, 2012

An analysis of the misinformation that surrounds the passage of Right to Work in Michigan

History has a habit of repeating itself, either intentionally or by chance.

Yesterday, December 6th 2012 was a day that will live in infamy in Michigan. This was disastrous for unions in the State of Michigan

Passage of RTW (right to work) or as Republicans Orwellian phrase it …Freedom to Work is a political attack on labor unions in Michigan. Am I paranoid?


Depending on the time of day and who is speaking, Republicans tout RTW for the following reasons

  1. It is unfair that workers must join a union
  2. It is unfair that workers must financially support union backed candidates
  3. Governor Snyder has actually made the statement that RTW will “Bring Michigan Together”
  4. RTW will bring more jobs to Michigan.
  5. RTW will bring back Elvis (the rockabilly Elvis, not the fat one from the 70s)


I CHALLENGE any State Republican to prove false the following, which is CURRENT LAW

  1. An employee does NOT have to join a union
  2. An employee does NOT have to contribute dues or fees toward political candidates it does not approve of


As an instructional mechanism to help our State Republican’s that may not understand this issue I suggest

  1. Communication Workers v. Beck, 487 U.S. 735 (1988) which rules that non members do not have to pay dues, only those fees that cover the expense of bargaining the contract they work under.
  2. The NLRA (National Labor Relations Act) which covers most private sector employees
  3. Michigan PERA (Public Employee Relations Act) which covers most public sector employees
    1. Pattern Makers v. NLRB, 473 U.S. 95 (1985), the United States Supreme Court held that union members have the right to resign their union membership at any time.


As for the other issues I mention above:

    1.  Governor Snyder’s statement that RTW will bring Michigan together defies adult interpretation.
    2.  RTW will not increase employment in Michigan unless wages can be driven down so low that everyone can have a McSnyder job.
    3.  Elvis is NOT coming back. He would be too old. (He can be found on ITunes)


The basic concepts of PERA and NLRA are similar in that they provide ways for workers to continue employment while not members of a union and to avoid paying any dues or fees to support political candidates that they do not approve of. These are LAW today and have been law for decades and have worked well under both Republican and Democratic State leadership.

Since these are today law, what other reason for this sudden RTW can be discerned?

It’s really quite simple.  Weaken the union and you drive down wages and union dues and weaken political opposition to Republican candidates and issues statewide.  Would any of them please just admit this and set an honest starting point for debate?

History repeats itself in many ways, intended and not intended. The State Republicans call RTW……. FREEDOM TO WORK.  As I have shown by the use of current law, this is an Orwellian subterfuge.  Strangely enough, it is very linguistically close to another subterfuge called……. FREEDOM THROUGH WORK.  This was posted on the gates to a concentration camp in Poland.  You would think they could come up with something better than that.  I guess they were too busy “saving” the working man.

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Sherri Ladoceur December 09, 2012 at 07:36 PM
Great article Bruce. I see no one has taken you up on our challenge. Facts can be scary to some people at times.
Tristan December 13, 2012 at 12:35 PM
My father in law lived and worked here in Michigan for Michigan Bell years ago. He retired back in 1979. He had withdrawn from the union after several years at Ma Bell because he said it was a personal choice not a political choice. He claimed he was never harassed in any way and on the rare occasion that he felt he needed a union reps advice he was given the help he needed without hesitation on the unions part. I worked for two auto companies before I retired both as an hourly employee and supervision and never once saw any union person harassing non union members. Sure, once a year you would get a letter asking you to vote for the candidates the union felt would do the most good for them but any donated monies were given voluntarily by those union members who chose to do so. Snyder needs to leave Michigan politics before we become a statewide Detroit!


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