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Cross-posted from Centerleft.org

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder doesn’t like unions.  Neither does the Republican-controlled legislature.  So last December, it wasn’t too big of a surprise that Snyder and the Michigan Republicans slammed the state with “Right-to-Work” laws, laws that essentially tear away at the footholds that unions have in Michigan.

So what are right-to-work laws, and why don’t they work?

Right-to-work laws prohibit labor unions and employers from entering into contracts that only employ unionized workers for the jobs in the contract.

Workers in states without these laws who are covered by a union contract canrefuse to join the union and then pay the fees associated with the workplace bargaining.  States with Right-to-Work laws require union contracts to cover all workers, not just the ones who are members of the union.  This allows employees to be “free-riders” and receive the benefits of the union contract without having to pay their share of dues and fees to the union.  This corrodes the power of unions, because those who do not pay can still reap the benefits.  Thus, there is no incentive for people to pay union fees.  This slippery slope eventually leads to workers having little to no bargaining power due to unions being unable to financially support themselves.

Many people, such as good ol’ boy Rick Snyder will say that Right-to-Work laws prevent forced unionism.  This is not true.  States without Right-to-work laws do not force employees to unionize, because federal law strictly prohibits such wrongdoing.

Unions in Michigan are suffering because of these laws, and have been pursuing legal action against them.  One suit, filed jointly with the ACLU and Michigan unions, seeks to invoke a violation of Michigan’s Open Meetings Act.

That suit seeks to overturn both right-to-work laws, alleging the laws were passed in an undemocratic process that violated the state Open Meetings Act. On December 6, 2012, the plaintiffs point out, the Republican-controlled state legislature locked Capitol doors to bar some journalists and members of the public from entry.

“Because the statute was enacted while the public was being locked out of the capitol,” explains ACLU of Michigan staff attorney Dan Korobkin, “the law should be invalidated, which is a remedy provided by the Open Meetings Act itself.”

Source:  In these Times
However, the Michigan Attorney General has continued appealing to dismiss the suits against the RTW laws.

Michigan unions and workers need to keep fighting these laws.  When you take away the unions, you open the door for complete control from the businesses, corporations, and governments that insist on having their way with workers.  These Republican-driven laws in Michigan have waged an assault on collective bargaining.

Originally posted to Centerleft on Thu Aug 22, 2013 at 05:20 PM PDT.

Also republished by In Support of Labor and Unions.

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