Thursday, December 6, 2012

Michigan on the Way to Becoming the Next Right-to-Work State

MichiganIt is hard to believe that one of the homes of the labor movement, Michigan, is about to enact "right-to-work" (or right-to-free-ride) legislation. Such legislation will permit workers in both the public and private sectors in Michigan to receive the services of unions (collective bargaining and grievance handling) without paying for any of the expense of such services through agency fees (membership dues). 

Needless to say, such laws make it hard for unions financially to maintian their operations and make it also difficult for unions to organize workers in the first place. 

Here are the latest details from the Detroit Free Press on the Michigan situation:

There was chaos and high emotion at the Capitol today after Gov. Rick Snyder and GOP legislative leaders announced fast-track plans to make Michigan the nation’s 24th right-to-work state.

At a news conference, Snyder said the Legislature will proceed with right-to-work legislation for public and private employees — which would exclude police and firefighters — and that the bills will be introduced today during the lame-duck session. He said he plans to sign them when they reach his desk.

“The goal isn’t to divide Michigan. It is to bring Michigan together,” the governor said, as hundreds of union protesters stormed the Capitol and the governor’s office, vociferously voicing their opposition to the plan.

Union activists demonstrated outside and inside the Romney Building, which houses Snyder’s offices, and poured into the Capitol across the street. At about 12:30 p.m., State Police said no one was being allowed into the Capitol -- including employees -- because it was at capacity. Even UAW President Bob King and Michigan AFL-CIO head Karla Swift were having trouble attempting to get inside.

If Michigan does enact this legislation, which appears very likely at this point, it will be the 24th state to do so. 


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If you don't like so-called "free riders," repeal monopoly representation, for it is monopoly representation which "permit[s] [sic; the more accurate word is "requires"] workers in both the public and private sectors in Michigan to receive the 'services' of unions (collective bargaining and grievance handling)." Of course, your dismissal of any such possibility reveals your true agenda to be union power.

Posted by: James Young | Dec 7, 2012 12:01:13 PM

James -- in exchange for eliminating the principle of exclusive representation, would you accept the imposition of a duty to bargain with minority unions on a members-only basis?

Posted by: hb | Dec 10, 2012 5:41:34 AM

I'd have to think about that some, "hb." It's certainly a reasonable possibility and, if I'm not mistaken, the prevailing principle in Europe.

Posted by: James Young | Dec 10, 2012 6:04:55 PM

Is the free rider problem still present in those European countries that have minority unions?

Posted by: but | Dec 12, 2012 7:00:49 PM

On Jonathan Adler has an interesting post about "right-to-work" laws. While he is no fan of unions, he posits that such laws are anti-libertarian, because they violate freedom of contract rights.

I do not buy his argument, and think that it would be harmful. What is to stop "freedom of contract" from contracting around civil rights, wage laws, etc.?

it is worth the read, regardless.

Posted by: Per Son | Dec 13, 2012 8:38:27 AM

The European systems are not cookie cutter laws that are compatible in other jurisdictions.

For example:

1) In the UK there are Employment tribunals that hear all claims regardless of who brings them;
2) In Germany the rules regarding monopolies are far different;
3) There are traditions of sectoral bargaining as opposed to individual companies;
4) Many countries do not differentiate between public and private sector;
5) many do not have federalism concerns; and
6) Only Denmark has at will employment so the whole framework is different from the US.

Posted by: Per Son | Dec 14, 2012 12:11:57 PM

I read Adler's article, and unlike some of the so-called "libertarian" articles attacking Right to Work laws, he at least mentions the pro-compulsion elements of Federal labor law (monopoly bargaining, for one), though not specifically.

Posted by: James Young | Dec 14, 2012 7:10:48 PM

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