Right to Work for Less

Thursday, December 6, 2012

The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr said, “Now everyone knows that the labor movement did not diminish the strength of the nation but enlarged it. By raising the living standards of millions, labor miraculously created a market for industry and lifted the whole nation to undreamed of levels of production. Those who attack labor forget these simple truths, but history remembers them.”

Sadly, there are some powerful people in Michigan who never learned the lessons that the Rev. Dr. King explained so eloquently.

Conservative Republicans in Lansing are pushing a right to work law before the legislature. They want to ram a hastily crafted bill through the last days of the current lame duck legislature destroying the valuable union protections that Michigan workers have enjoyed for decades.

They want to do this fast and quick to avoid any organized opposition of the type we saw last year in Wisconsin when Republicans attacked worker’ rights.

As your elected state representative, I give you my 100 percent pledge that I will oppose any and all efforts to destroy, eliminate or weaken the rights of Michigan working people to have labor union representation. I will oppose such efforts with every fiber of my being.

Michigan and its strong working class would not be where it is today if we did not have an organized labor movement to fight for better wages, decent hours and a good benefit and retirement package. Workers would be at the mercy of greedy corporations and employers who would act as petty dictators treating their workers as powerless peons to be used like any other raw material of production and cast aside when no longer needed.

Workers in a unionized state — regardless if you belong to a labor union or not — reap the benefits of higher union-negotiated wages and benefits.

The so-called right-to-work legislation is a fraud and a lie. It would not give any one person the right to work. Instead, it would create an environment giving all power to employers where the employee only has the right to work cheaper. In fact, the wages of all workers in right to work states average $1,500 less per year than workers in union states.

On top of that lost $1,500 each year, workers in right-to work-states are less likely to have health insurance or pensions.

Right-to-work state laws have no impact in boosting a state’s economic growth or lowering state unemployment rates.

They are a lose/lose proposition that would be very bad for Michigan.

In 1932, people from the west side of Detroit marched on the Ford Motor Co. Rouge plant for jobs. They were met with armed thugs, dogs and water cannons. Four Detroiters were killed simply because they wanted dignified employment. 60,000 people attended their funeral in Detroit. Five years later, Walter Reuther and others were brutally beaten in the famous Battle of the Overpass almost on the same spot where the previous event had occurred. It took blood, sweat and tears but eventually the Ford Motor Company agreed to be a unionized company.

Now the memory of those lost lives and all that hard work could be lost if the anti-labor forces get their way in the Legislature. I strongly urge you to call the office of Governor Rick Snyder at (517) 373-3400 and voice your opposition to this travesty.

Your money, your rights, and your dignity as a working person are at risk and must be protected.

Remind Gov. Snyder of the words of a fellow Republican, President Dwight David Eisenhower:

“Only a fool would try to deprive working men and working women of their right to join the union of their choice.”