Right-to-Work in Michigan: Desperate times and all of that...

Cross-posted on Right Michigan at www.RightMichigan.com.

They like to say that the UAW brought you the forty-hour work week and a little something known as the weekend.  And while I haven’t enjoyed a regular forty-hour work week or an actual work-free weekend since I entered the work force full-time over a decade ago I’m willing to acknowledge that such things do in fact exist.  In some parallel universe that somehow never seems to intersect my life.  But they’re out there.

Of course, the folks who tell you about all the good the unions have done with their compulsory dues, their corrupt, often criminal management and their hundreds of millions in political spending backing liberal, pro-death, anti-gun, anti-faith political candidates refuse to tell you about the damage they’re doing on the other side of the “weekend” coin.

Instead of focusing on a partnership with management that keeps Michigan jobs in Michigan, for instance, the big unions spent this past summer bankrolling and promoting a radical rewrite of the Constitution designed to strip the courts of dozens of conservative judges.  Because giving the governor a hundred new judicial appointments in her last two years in office helps save John Q. Smith’s job on the assembly line at Chrysler.

Organizations designed to protect moms and dads from unfair working conditions have become nothing but special interest shills of the Democratic Party and they’re doing a lot more harm than good.  The first step in the right direction for Michigan, according to the periodical for job makers, “Chief Executive” magazine, is to address the union problem head on and full force.

Michigan needs to have a difficult conversation.  Michigan needs to become a Right to Work state.

Read on…

The way we’re doing things today simply is not working.  The Ivory Tower reports that Chrysler’s new axle plant in Marysville is now expected to replace only four-hundred of the sixteen-hundred jobs being eliminated at Detroit Axle, down a full five-hundred jobs from their initial promises.  

Meanwhile, even the more left-leaning editors at the Michigan Business Review see local trouble looming after the devastating collapse of Lehman and Merrill on Wall Street.  (“Michigan will bear the brunt of it,” Paula Gardner promises.)

So what’s a struggling state to do?  

First, put the gun down and stop shooting holes in our feet.  Address the tax and regulatory climate and give workers the choice on whether or not they want to spend a giant chunk of their paycheck subsidizing the political activity of Big Labor’s fat cats.  Ed Kopko, the editor of Chief Executive magazine opines in the Detroit News:

Lower or no-tax states are preferred choices (for job makers). Consequently, Michigan legislators did little to improve the state’s image when they raised the state income tax rate to 4.35 percent from 3.9 percent and the state’s tax on gross business receipts 22 percent in October 2007.

With increased national and global competition for businesses, it is all the more important that Michigan reconsider its position on the national and global stage. In the fight for job creation, the state first needs to become a right-to-work state. Study after study has shown that forced unionism eliminates job opportunities and cuts employees’ real incomes.

I’ve talked in the past about “go” words.  “Right-to-work” clearly falls in that category.  It is a concept that doesn’t just stir up the bee hive, it kicks it and then sits around waiting to see what happens.  Earlier this year Big Labor spent millions of dollars on a television ad campaign across the state fighting the concept even though no one was even raising the question.  It might be time to reconsider the hands off approach.  Strap on the bee-keepers outfit and take a couple of preemptive aspirin.

Over the course of my life I’ve been blessed to spend time learning from men at the top of their fields.  From the best father, pastors, managers, organizers, political and economic minds, literally, in the world.  My only regret has been that I’ve far too often been far too focused on other issues to soak up everything they’ve offered.  One bit of management wisdom that somehow stuck goes something like this…

Change is always difficult.  Giant change is more difficult than moderate change.  But a crisis situation increases the ability to do the dramatic.  The bigger the crisis the more dramatic the solution those in the crisis will be willing to consider.  

Michigan is in one heck of a nasty crisis.  Time for big things.  Mr. Kopko:

Michigan, as one of the most unionized states in the country and one of the few forced-unionism states, is far from being an ideal state for business. This sentiment is clearly reflected in Chief Executive magazine’s most recent “Best & Worst States to Do Business” survey in which Michigan was ranked No. 49 — only above New York and California (and behind the District of Columbia).

In fact, when Volkswagen chose to build its assembly plant in Tennessee (a right-to-work state ranked No. 6 in the survey) in a hard fought contest between Tennessee, Michigan and Alabama (another right-to-work state ranked No. 12), it was making a statement on behalf of all businesses that even though Michigan may have the adequate work force and skills needed for the job, businesses will choose to go elsewhere simply to avoid business-hostile conditions. As a result, Tennessee will now get nearly $1 billion in investment and 2,000 jobs…

We are not a right-to-work state.  We have compulsory union membership.  It isn’t working out particularly well these days.  It is time to course correct… it is time to bring on the fight!

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