Michigan GOP Freeing Workers from Union Dues

The DC GOP may be looking for creative ways to surrender its principles, but in the states, the GOP is pressing its advantage to reform the country. Today, in Michigan, the GOP Legislature and Governor made a surprise move to enact Right-to-Work legislation. The political impact of this move cannot be overstated.

Republicans in Michigan announced this morning their intention to move two bills that would free both public and private sector union members from their obligation to pay union dues. Workers in the home state of the UAW would be free to decide for themselves whether or not to join a union. The decision to hold the snap vote before the end of the year suggests that the Republicans have to votes to enact the ground-breaking legislation.

My colleage, John Sexton, wrote yesterday that union power in the industrial Midwest is eroding rapidly. Last year, Indiana enacted right-to-work legislation and in Wisconsin, the unions spectacularly failed to reverse Governor Walker’s public sector reforms.

Today’s action in Michigan was likely prompted by a resounding union defeat in last month’s election. The unions pushed an initiative which would have enshrined collective bargaining rights in the state Constitution. Michiganders, on the way to reelecting Obama, overwhelmingly rejected the union initiative. The unions spent millions pushing their initiative, but got just over 40% of the vote.

The unions seem to have been caught flat-footed by the GOP’s bold move. The picture above was taken today in Lansing and the anemic protest suggests that not many beyond union staff were involved. No doubt the unions will ramp up the outrage over the coming days.

But, as Wisconsin showed, when conservatives stick to their principles, union power is little more than an annoying bark. There may be dark days ahead for conservatives in DC. But, as always, we can look to the states for meaningful reform. 

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