Despite the objections of thousands of people who packed the capitol in Lansing, Mich., yesterday, Michigan's Republican Gov. Rick Snyder signed two bills into law which sharply limit labor rights. Amidst those chanting, "Shame on you!" from the gallery, the governor moved his pen in support of this passage, which narrowly won by seven votes in the Republican-led state legislature. The uproar is about a ban on workplace rules that makes union membership a condition of employment for government workers. A second bill was also passed, by six votes, which also covers private-sector workers. The new rules will most likely take effect in late March in what was one of the country's most union friendly states. It now will be No. 24 on the list of "right to work" states in the United States.
This move is unfair. And that is one of the reasons the President chimed in while in Michigan this week. President Obama is not only about the wealthy paying their fair share in taxes, but he is also of the same mindset as those in the union, and those who support unions, like myself: that is unfair for those workers who opt out of a union to gain from the many benefits that unions provide to it's workers (salary increases, safe working conditions, healthcare as just a few examples), without paying dues.
[See a collection of political cartoons on the economy.]
Governor Snyder has stated he was "pro-collective bargaining." Right. Believe that? He also said some workers in Michigan had no freedom of choice. Really? I don't agree. The auto industry, which largely supports the state of Michigan's economy, has bounced back very well. There are two main reasons for this: a) a government bailout and b) quality workers making quality products. So if Governor Snyder wants more people here and abroad to buy cars made by GM, Chrysler, Ford, etc., he just shot himself and his state in the foot. What Governor Snyder and the Republican state legislature in Michigan have done is just proven how far one will go when they have sour grapes after an election. After an election where the Democratic pro-union president was re-elected. After an election where their state went blue. After an election that sent more Democrats to both the House and the Senate, narrowing the Republican lead in the House and widening the Democratic lead in the Senate. And of course, the final nail in the coffin? Blame the unions, who backed those Democrats. As the president said, this is not about economics, this is about politics. And all you have to do is look at the numbers to see that. The auto industry has added thousands of jobs and the purchase of new American vehicles has helped not only the auto industry, but America's economy on the whole. And remember those on the right who said that union workers are paid more? Now they're saying the president's remark that Michigan wants to hire workers to do more for less isn't accurate. Now they're stating that union workers actually are paid less. So using the Republican argument, why wouldn't a company want a better employee for less money?! (Obviously the Republicans aren't looking at any of their former arguments and talking points)
[See a collection of political cartoons on the Republican Party.]
Job growth and consumerism are good for our economy and not just in the state of Michigan. The American voter knew that blaming the unions for the state of our economy was just (using the Vice President's term) "malarkey." So now, Americans in both Michigan and nationwide will go to the polls again in the next two years. And as consumers, they'll decide where they want to put their money. Do they want to put it into a state that spits on unions, which were established to protect workers from the big guys behind the big desks counting their money? So America and Michigan can thank the governor when more of it's own are put on the unemployment rolls while the governor makes a deal with the devil hoping that manufacturing plants will move north to Michigan to rebuild. Doubtful.
I will say this for the governor. Perhaps it is about economics after all. I mean, how much money will the governor pocket from signing such legislation into law? I guess job creation is only okay when it's a nonunion organization doing it, hmm? It's sad. A state that has long been considered the heart of organized labor saw it's governor ignore the cries of over 10,000 people in the state's capitol. I guess he'll only care about their voices when he needs their votes. Too bad; most of them will most likely leave Michigan to find work now. Work in a state where they will be treated fairly as union employees. For as the governor has proven, no one watches out for the workers, their rights, and their working conditions, except for maybe the very organization he demonizes: the union.
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