Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Michigan's "right-to-work" bill will gut unions

By Kathleen Gray, Paul Egan and Lori Higgins, Detroit Free Press, December 11, 2012

What the Law says
No private employee shall be required “as a condition of employment to…pay any dues, fees, assessments or other charges or expenses of any kind or amount or provide anything of value to a labor organization.”

Violators are subject to a civil fine of up to $500.
No vote
The House bill appropriates $1 million to the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs for expenses related to the bill -- whether the money is spent or not. By making the right-to-work bill an appropriations bill, the Republicans are making it referendum-proof.
Deeply engraved in the motivation of this Michigan legislation, are the signatures on the cheques from the Koch brothers, and their ALEC organization, which seems to function in a manner quite similar to that of Grover Norquist.
"Do as we say or you will be "primaried" and defeated by one of "our candidates." Norquist has signatures from Republican members of Congress "promising" never to vote to raise taxes. ALEC has members who are committed to gutting the labour movement, thereby freeing employers from the need to negotiate, to provide benefits for workers and to respect health and safety regulations in the workplace, in effect, paving the way for unfettered corporate greed.
(From Drinking the Koch brothers cool aid, Editorial in Detroit Free Press, December 11, 2012)
American Legislative Exchange Council, which promotes a radical right-wing agenda in states across the country, supplying "model legislation" to sympathetic lawmakers.
The organization boasts more than 2,000 legislative members. It also has corporate members, who weigh in on the model legislation before it's approved by the group's public-sector committee, the group's national chairman said in an interview he gave after dozens of pieces of ALEC-written model legislation were leaked last year in a joint project by The Nation and the Center for Media and Democracy.
Michigan's proposed right-to-work bills mirror the ALEC language practically word-for-word.
It's unclear how many Michigan lawmakers are members of ALEC; the group doesn't make its membership rolls public. But at least one of the lawmakers who introduced Michigan's right-to-work legislation has been associated with ALEC.
And as in other right-wing campaigns, this one has a euphemistic cover in its name, "right-to-work" as if anyone would deny another person the 'right to work'....
Remember the multiple attempts in several states prior to the recent election to repress the vote by requiring often inaccessible documentation in order to vote..
"to prevent voter fraud" of which there was so little evidence as to be difficult to find.
Recall also the framing of the anti-abortion movement: "right to life"...as if anyone would be opposed to a right to live....
And then, attached to this "right to work" legislation is another part of the bill linking it to a $1 million appropriation for the Licensing Commission, thereby denying opponents the right to put the bill on the ballot as a separate referendum.
Just another slick and slimey way of restricting the weapons available to the opponents of the bill to pull it off the books. It will then, after it is passed, require some form of court challenge, and/or another vote of an increased majority to remove it from the state's laws.
And if anyone thinks this law is not another test case, in the very state that is the heart of the auto industry, where unions have fought for workers' fair treatment for well over a century, then they need to think again.
And in Canada, we are not immune from this "right-wing-agenda" that seeks to emasculate the labour movement, leaving the capitalists free to wreak their will on their most valuable and least treasured asset, their workers.
I am quite surprised that the Canadian Labour Movement, and the Canadian New Democratic Party is not marching on the Capital Building in Lansing, with the opponents to this legislation....there is only a river, a bridge and a tunnel separating Detroit from Windsor, and the Canadian Prime Minister has already offered funding for an additional bridge over the river, to make the border even more porous to "trade"....
Well, the purpose of this legislation will not be lost on those Canadian neo-cons who, like the members of ALEC, will be watching the events in Lansing today, and learning whatever lessons it gives to promote similar legislation in Canada.
The Canadian Labour Movement, too, must be vigilant, and arming itself against a similar fight in the near future.

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