The state Capitol was largely quiet (with the exception of a spirited debate on the abortion petition initiative) on the anniversary of the passage of a historic right-to-work bill. Last year at this time, the halls and lawn were packed with thousands of protesters. But today, it was largely business as usual with no signs of the hullabaloo that rocked the building a year ago.
State House Speaker Jase Bolger (R-Marshall) says he has no regrets about passing the controversial right-to-work legislation. “It’s a very good anniversary because workers are more free,” he said. “They’re free to make their own decisions on which organizations they want to join or not join.”
Democrats and unions had a different take. They complain the new law allows non-union members to take advantage of collective bargaining and grievance representation without paying dues, while tamping down wages and benefits.
“We know it doesn’t create jobs,” said House Minority Leader Tim Greimel (D-Pontiac). “What it does do is reduce wages for Michigan’s workers, erode benefits, and dismantle workplace safety protections.”
A slight uptick in the unemployment rate is due mostly to more people looking for work. Hiring by Michigan employers is up slightly over the past year, although there’s no evidence to suggest that is or isn’t due to the right-to-work law.
There are still some court challenges pending to the right-to-work law.