Unions face new challenge from right-to-work movement

Manny Lopez

Unions face new challenge from right-to-work movement

Detroit — Mark Mix’s phones are ringing a bit more often from workers in Michigan, and he is spending more time in the state these days.

For the president of the National Right to Work Committee, that means something.

"The worse it gets with the economy and everything else, the better it gets for things that can help the state," he told me Wednesday. "In Michigan, I believe people are asking what’s causing all this and they’re looking around and identifying things like taxes and government and forced unionization and looking for answers."

It’s clear to Mix and his colleagues — and an increasing number of people here — that one of those answers is making union membership an option not a requirement, as is now the case.

Fixing a broken system

He has a point.

The system is broken in Michigan and unless new things are put on the table to talk about, the state’s free fall into oblivion will continue.

That doesn’t mean unions will be broken. Nor does it mean it will even happen. But why not talk about it free from the rhetoric and intimidation from both the union and management?

Unfortunately, the answer is: because it’s Michigan. And suggesting such a thing is akin to slapping someone’s mother.

The unions will not allow such discussion and automotive companies won’t broach the subject either — because despite declining membership numbers, the unions still control the state.

"The UAW can deliver more pain than the right-to-work movement," Mix said.

State keeps losing jobs

That’s too bad because, regardless of one’s politics, at the core, it’s about choice. Individuals should be given the right to decide on their own whether they want to join a union in a workplace.

Maybe in a state that leads the nation in unemployment with little indication of change, they’ll side with the union. Maybe they won’t.

Between 2002 and 2007, private sector employment growth in Michigan dropped 5.7 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. In right-to-work states it increased 9.6 percent.

No single reason explains that, but it is interesting.

The fact that the topic is taboo is what really hurts Michigan because it keeps employers away, too.

Mix, nonetheless, remains optimistic. He said interest is picking up in all the Rust Belt states because workers are wondering if what they’ve been promised is really going to happen or if their benefits will even be held intact. The Chrysler bankruptcy and soon to be GM filing has raised some union worker eyebrows, he said.

Of course, Michigan isn’t likely to become the 23rd state to change its ways, but that doesn’t stop Mix and his colleagues from answering worker phone calls.

"There is hope," Mix said. "Freedom in the workplace always wins — even in Michigan."

Seniority Lists
Recent Posts!
Bargaining Committee

Mike Herron
Tim Stannard
Zone at Large – 1st
Danny Taylor
Zone at Large – 2nd
Mark Wilkerson
Joe McClure
Chad Poynor
Steve Roberts
Derek Lewis
Bill Cundiff
Kirk Zebbs
Don Numinen
Jay Minella
Danny Bragg
Chris Hill
Rashad Thomas
Keith Oswald
Chris Brown

1853 Officers

Tim Stannard
Mike Herron
Vice President
Darrell DeJean
Financial Secretary
Mark Wunderlin
Recording Secretary
Peggy Mullins
Trustee (3)
Jay Lowe
Dave Clements
Dave Spare
Sgt. at Arms
David C Spare
Ashley Holloway
E-Board at Large (2)
David Ryder
Steve Roberts
GM Unit Chair
Mike Herron
Leadec Unit Chair
Larry Poole
Ryder Unit Chair
Patrick Linck
AFV Unit Chair
Neil Osborne
Retiree Chair
Mike Martinez

Get Text Alerts


*Standard text messaging rates may apply from your carrier