December 11th, 2012
11:42 AM ET
1 year ago

What's the 'right-to-work' battle all about?

(CNN) - The battle over right-to-work legislation in Michigan has renewed debate over labor policy and the role of unions in the American economy. Here's a quick look at the issue:

What's going on?

Michigan's storied labor movement and its allies are mobilizing to stop Republican-backed legislation that would give workers the right to opt out of union membership and, critics say, weaken unions. The state House and Senate passed separate "right-to-work" bills last week in a surprise move that provoked thousands of labor supporters to descend on the state Capitol for protests that led to eight arrests. More protests are scheduled for Tuesday.

FULL STORY

Filed under: Michigan
soundoff (36 Responses)
  1. Sniffit

    20 of 23 "right to work" states receive more fedearl aid than their citizens pay in taxes. The only exceptions are Texas, Arkansas and Nebraska.

    Watch how fast Michigan joins those 20 when its large population of auto workers, etc., all start getting shafted on their salaries. The reality is this: corporations are the real welfare queens. They are doing everything they can to use the federal government's support system to avoid providing their employees with real living wages, raises, and quality benefits. When Michigan workers watch their salaries and benefits decrease because of the attacks on unions and empoyee bargaining power, emlpoyees will have to turn to the gov't for help. That's just fine as far as the 8-figure salary executives are concerned. After all, their salaries increased as the employees' decreased.

    December 11, 2012 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  2. Data Driven

    Remember, Democrats: Obama is not Gandalf. He does not wield a magic staff that makes all our preferred policies magically happen. When you take the mid-terms off, thinking you're "done" with politics because the guy or gal you wanted wins the Presidential election, evil consequences ensue. In this case, the unions in the most pro-union state in the USA will be crippled by Tea Party fanatics that you didn't vote against because you stayed home in 2010.

    Here's some homework: compare median wages in right-to-work states to those states without that policy.

    December 11, 2012 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  3. DOG1

    Big business and republicans like to call them right to work states but their real name is minimum wage states, or alternatively 3rd world country style states. I am no economist but I have to pose this to the governor. The majority of employers will take advantage of it to lower their employees wages, corporations that want to pay minimum will move to Michigan, and in addition, since you are sold out to corporations I imagine one of the incentives you've given them is that they pay little or no tax. Here's the question, with no revenue from corporate tax and the citizens of Michigan pay only income tax on minimum wage just how will you pay the expenses of your state?
    ....................................................Oh, yeah, you'll blame the unions and demand a Federal bailout then complain again about government spending, and of course you can always raise the tax rate for the middle/working class, can't you?

    December 11, 2012 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  4. Gurgyl

    This minimum wage is a big BS.....

    December 11, 2012 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  5. Rudy NYC

    "20 of 23 "right to work" states receive more fedearl aid than their citizens pay in taxes. The only exceptions are Texas, Arkansas and Nebraska."

    I would declare those re state folks to be the real "takers", and the blue state folks to be genuine "makers".

    December 11, 2012 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  6. Tommy G

    The "right to work" is really the "right to be free from union theft and corruption". Billions are confiscated from union members for fund their corrupt organization and to funnel to the Democrats. Not all union members are Democrats.

    December 11, 2012 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  7. Sniffit

    ""20 of 23 "right to work" states receive more fedearl aid than their citizens pay in taxes. The only exceptions are Texas, Arkansas and Nebraska."

    I would declare those re state folks to be the real "takers", and the blue state folks to be genuine "makers"."

    Indeed. Want to wake them up to reality? Propose legislation limiting the federal aid/funding a state can receive to the amount of federal taxes paid by its citizens. We can call it the "Balanced Assistance Act" and then munch popcorn as all the red-staters, GOPers and Teatrolls who complain about "the 47%" have a sudden, simultaneous embolic seizure and throw the grandest hypocrisy conniption fit the world has ever seen.

    December 11, 2012 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  8. Rudy NYC

    Tommy G wrote:

    The "right to work" is really the "right to be free from union theft and corruption". Billions are confiscated from union members for fund their corrupt organization and to funnel to the Democrats. Not all union members are Democrats.
    -----------
    The top 5 poorest states...those with the lowest average wage, the highest poverty levels, the least educated people....are also the same states that top the lists of states taking in more federal dollars than what they pay out. They also all happen to be some of the longest standing "right to work" states in the nation.

    December 11, 2012 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  9. rs

    "Right to work" is the creation of an environment that kicks the financial legs out from under unions by allowing workers the benefits of union protection without paying for them. Once the unions are gone, then companies can reduce pay and benefits with impunity. This is a pro-corporate, anti-worker initiative that typifies how the GOP thinks about working Americans.

    December 11, 2012 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  10. Mort

    Right to work = American worker is screwed again.

    December 11, 2012 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  11. Rick McDaniel

    The right to have a job, without being forced to pay "taxes" to a labor union.

    December 11, 2012 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  12. rs

    Rick-
    The "right" to have no say in your own compensation.

    December 11, 2012 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  13. Tony

    The right for employers to offer jobs without benefits or insurance, like what illegal immigrants get.

    December 11, 2012 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  14. Rudy NYC

    Rick McDaniel

    The right to have a job, without being forced to pay "taxes" to a labor union.
    --------------
    A mere pittance to pay for the right to join hands and stand up to the the moguls and overlords without fear of retribution.

    December 11, 2012 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  15. Lynda/Minnesota

    Sniffit

    ""20 of 23 "right to work" states receive more fedearl aid than their citizens pay in taxes. The only exceptions are Texas, Arkansas and Nebraska."

    I would declare those re state folks to be the real "takers", and the blue state folks to be genuine "makers"."

    Indeed. Want to wake them up to reality? Propose legislation limiting the federal aid/funding a state can receive to the amount of federal taxes paid by its citizens. We can call it the "Balanced Assistance Act" and then munch popcorn as all the red-staters, GOPers and Teatrolls who complain about "the 47%" have a sudden, simultaneous embolic seizure and throw the grandest hypocrisy conniption fit the world has ever seen.
    ---------–

    Coming from a Blue State, I vote "YES" to the "Balanced Assistance Act" ... and the popcorn.

    December 11, 2012 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  16. Howard

    AMERICANS SHOULD NOT BE COMPELLED TO JOIN A UNION IN ORDER TO WORK !!!

    December 11, 2012 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  17. John the Historian

    Republicans only want to cut people's rights and workers' rights. They want the corporate elite to rule. The same corporate elite who get bonuses while at the same time declaring bankruptcy, posting no profits, and laying people off. The same corporate that gives its employees no say on how the company is run. These corporations only want bailout money and want want to provide no benefits or health care for their workers. As Citizens United said and Willard repeated corporations are people. Defeat the Wall Street Republicans.

    December 11, 2012 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  18. Sniffit

    "AMERICANS SHOULD NOT BE COMPELLED TO JOIN A UNION IN ORDER TO WORK !!!"

    Angry Teatroll doesn't have the basic understanding of the issue or the underlying laws. Story at 11.

    December 11, 2012 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  19. Wes

    rs wrote:
    "Right to work" is the creation of an environment that kicks the financial legs out from under unions by allowing workers the benefits of union protection without paying for them.
    -------------------------------------------------
    Kind of like the 47% that don't pay taxes in this country. They want benefits, but don't want to pay for it.

    December 11, 2012 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  20. tammyk tammy

    Right to work laws also allows the employer to fire you for any reason or NO REASON AT ALL. How does that translate as a right to work?

    December 11, 2012 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  21. Sniffit

    "What's the 'right-to-work' battle all about?"

    Plutocracy.

    Next question.

    December 11, 2012 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  22. Data Driven

    "Balanced Assistance Act"

    EXCELLENT idea, Sniffit. Are you listening, GOPhers? It cuts spending on the moochers, therefore you should support it.

    December 11, 2012 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  23. West Coast

    Democratic Rep. Douglas Geiss, speaking on the House floor: "There will be blood, there will be repercussions,"

    Evidently this Democrat wants to incite riots. Regardless of party, this type of rhetoric should warrant an investigation.

    December 11, 2012 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  24. Annie, Atlanta

    It's the right to work for less. If we're not careful who we vote for we're going to wind up a serfdom instead of a Democratic Republic. What the heck are we thinking?

    Can the governor of MI be impeached for misleading the electorate? Oh, I'm not going to do this, except to slip it in when no one is looking. This is unconscionable and should be an impeachable offense.

    December 11, 2012 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  25. jpmichigan

    Every worker has a right to work, where he works is the problem. If companies allow unions to be voted into their business, then the worker has a choice of working there, join the union and/ or pay the union for representation, or else where They have choices, but many join because they like the benefit of representation by a group. So now that right to work is passed in Michigan, another choice comes into play, who will represent the non-union worker. By rights they should not be able to get the same benefits the union worker gets , just because he works there. So it is on the business to develop a 2 party system, one for non-union employees and one for union employees. So let the fun begin!

    December 11, 2012 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
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