Our View: A miracle in Michigan?
Posted: December 10, 2012
Moving with alacrity — hard-bitten union foes may call it stealth and/or deceit — Republican lawmakers in Michigan are on the verge of achieving the unthinkable: ushering the Wolverine State into the right-to-work ranks.
Unthinkable? You bet. Michigan, home to the auto industry, is also a bastion of unionism. Thus, even though the GOP swept to control of the statehouse in the 2010 elections, union heavies this year pushed Proposal 2, which not only would have entrenched collective bargaining in the state constitution but also would have given unions what amounted to veto power over labor-related legislation.
As November’s elections all but amply demonstrated, Big Labor overreached, dramatically. Michigan voters rejected Proposal 2. Perhaps the electorate had taken stock of developments in neighboring Indiana. Since becoming a right-to-work state earlier this year, Indiana has witnessed a business boom. Some 220 companies, including Amazon and Toyota, have showered Hoosierland with investment ($3.6 billion) and the promise of 21,000 new jobs. Who could blame Michigan folk for wanting a piece of this action, especially with the state hemorrhaging jobs (7,300 since January)?
Gov. Rick Snyder and his GOP party mates saw their opening in the current lame-duck session of the Legislature, and took it. On Thursday, both House and Senate rammed through right-to-work bills, even as union activists swarmed the Capitol and peppered lawmakers with threats and epithets.
Legislative rules require a five-day wait for each chamber to consider legislation approved by the other. Thus, as early as Tuesday, House and Senate could approve each other’s right-to-work bills. Mr. Snyder has vowed to sign the bills into law.
What we’re witnessing here are Republican lawmakers with gumption and, yes, even some guile. To protect these measures from the reach of union heavies eager to put right-to-work laws before the voters in referendum ASAP, Republicans attached a million-dollar appropriation to their bills. Making them de facto spending bills protects such initiatives from referendum.
But then, if Indiana might again serve as a guide, such protection may not have been needed. Hoosier Republicans picked up nine seats in November after right-to-work legislation had become law. And those lawmakers who ardently promoted right-to-work won handily last month.
Still, that’s putting the cart before the horse somewhat. The Michigan miracle has yet to be completed. By this time Wednesday, it might be — if Mr. Snyder and his colleagues stand firm.