With the Michigan legislative vote today on “right to work” for less, people are asking what’s at the bottom of all this. Is the legislature “drinking the Kochs’ Kool-Aid,” as the Detroit Free Press editorialized this morning? Is it about Gov. Rick Snyder abusing the legislative process and passing bills in a lame-duck session that he doesn’t have the votes for come January? Is it just more of the same old politics and union-busting? Or is it a new front in Snyder’s two-year assault on Michigan’s middle class, in which he’s cut taxes for corporations and CEOs, raised taxes on seniors and working families and slashed funding for K-12 education by a billion dollars?
The answer, of course, is that it’s about all of the above and more. But mainly it’s about greedy corporations and right-wing politicians joining forces to mute the voices of working families and lower living standards for all of us.
Twenty-three states in our country have “right to work” for less laws. In those states, average workers make about $1,540 less a year than workers in non-“right to work” for less states. Twenty-eight percent more people lack health insurance in those 23 states. The average poverty rate is 15.3 percent, as opposed to 13.3 percent in other states—18 percent higher. The rate of workplace deaths in “right to work” for less states is 36 percent higher than in states where workers have the collective strength to speak up for safe standards.
As a candidate, Gov. Snyder condemned “right to work” for less as “divisive and too radical.” What changed his mind? He got leaned on by the corporate CEOs and rich people who dumped billions of dollars into states like Michigan during the 2012 elections. Their goal then was the same as it is now: to drive down wages, ship jobs overseas and divide our nation.
Speaking yesterday at the Daimler Detroit Diesel plant in Redford, Mich., President Barack Obama struck back on behalf of working families and all our families. He said, “You only have to look at Michigan—where workers were instrumental in reviving the auto industry—to see how unions have helped build not just a stronger middle class, but a stronger America.”
In other words, we’re stronger when we work together—the exact opposite of what’s happening today in Michigan.
Fortunately, voters in Michigan are committed to continue working together to enact our shared vision of good jobs, strong communities and prosperity for all.