Momentum Grows for Michigan Right to Work Law

Columnist Manny Lopez joins the growing choir calling for implementation of a Right to Work law in Michigan. With Gov. Jennifer Granholm pushing a tax hike through the legislature, Lopez says it’s time for a grand compromise. “State Democrats, led by their increasingly unhinged governor, will accept nothing less than tax increases to satisfy their big government and welfare-for-everyone ways. I say, give it to them. But in exchange, they have to make Michigan a right-to-work state,” Lopez writes.

He continues :

Making Michigan right-to-work doesn’t ban unions; it opens up choice for workers. They no longer have to join or pay union dues as a condition of employment. Republicans also ought to hold out for changes to the state’s arcane prevailing wage laws, which force contractors to pay higher-than-market rates.

Liz Boyd, the governor’s press secretary, says “Everything is on the table.” Let’s hope that’s true. . . .

“My gut feeling, not having even attempted to crunch the numbers, says that getting right-to-work would be such an incredible boom to the economy that we could weather even an increase to the income tax,” says Larry Reed, president of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy in Midland.

Businesses might find this more tenable too, as they often operate in states with higher income taxes than Michigan, but in exchange have friendlier labor climates and other benefits. Residents, however, particularly those already struggling to make ends meet, will not look upon the idea as kindly. . . .

Don’t despair, however. Reed has another idea, and it’s one that sensible individuals from both parties ought to agree upon. Broker a deal that would tie right-to-work with a package of cuts and tax increases (heavier on the cuts) with a time limit set for both.

“Make it a five-year experiment. That way legislators voting now won’t have to feel like they’re responsible for these changes in perpetuity,” he says.

That’s enough time to see if businesses will accept that the death grip that a dwindling Big Labor base has on the state is waning, and it gives Granholm a chance to prove her economic plans are working.

“If you want sea change for Michigan, right-to-work is the way to do it,” says state Rep. Kevin Elsenheimer, R-Bellaire, who is the lead sponsor of a right-to-work bill (HB 4308) that’s stuck in committee. “If we want to say Michigan is open for business in the 21st Century that would be a major way to do it.”

Otherwise, hang the “closed” sign and move on.