New York Post: Michigan gave birth to the United Auto Workers. The union was founded at a convention in Detroit in 1935. After its famous sit-down strike in Flint, Mich., in 1937, the UAW won recognition by General Motors and, in the next several years, by Chrysler and Ford. It was the advent of an era of industrial unionization that may be coming to a symbolic end in the same place it started.
Michigan is on the verge of passing the kind of “right to work” law that is anathema to unions everywhere and is associated with the red states of the Sun Belt, not the blue states of the Rust Belt. To say that such a development is stunning is almost an understatement.
Michigan is to unionization what Florida is to sand, Texas is to oil and Alaska is to grizzly bears. The union model hasn’t just been central to its economy, but to its very identity.
At its inception, UAW officials got roughed up by company thugs at the famous “Battle of the Overpass,” when Ford was still resisting signing a contract with the union. Some 70 years later, the union movement is getting undone by simple economic realities.
The effect of right-to-work laws, which permit employees to work at unionized companies without joining the union and paying mandatory dues, is hard to pin down precisely because so many other factors affect a state’s economic condition. But Michigan was undergoing a real-world experiment in the merits of forced unionization versus right-to-work after neighboring Indiana adopted a right-to-work law earlier this year, the first Rust Belt state to do so.