Our View: On victory’s verge
Posted: December 12, 2012
Undeterred by the threats of Democratic colleagues sophomorically vowing “there will be blood,” Republican majorities in both houses of the Michigan Legislature approved right-to-work legislation Tuesday. Now, for such an unexpected victory to be complete, all Gov. Rick Snyder needs to do is sign the legislation, as promised.
“This is the day when Michigan freed its workers,” Rep. Lisa Posthumus Lyons said. Indeed it is. The Wolverine State’s economy has suffered from heightened stagnation — despite an ample pool of skilled workers, particularly in its trademark auto industry. The problem: No company — and this is especially true of foreign automakers — wants to come to Michigan, preferring instead to relocate or expand operations in states with more favorable business climates. Often, this means states with right-to-work laws — such as neighboring Indiana, which approved similar legislation earlier this year and saw its allure suddenly skyrocket.
Michigan’s victory was, in no small way, a loss for President Obama, who, in deciding to invest some of his post-election political capital in a state scrap, succeeded only in royally demagoguing the issue.
Speaking in Detroit on Monday, the president said, “What we shouldn’t be doing is trying to take away your rights to bargain for better wages and working conditions. We shouldn’t be doing that.
“You know, these so-called right-to-work laws, they don’t have to do with economics, they have everything to do with politics. What they’re really talking about is giving you the right to work for less money.”
Wrong, Mr. President. What these “so-called right-to-work laws” will do is give Michigan — and its workers — a fighting chance to resurrect its economy.
But that, apparently, is not how Mr. Obama sees it. “What we shouldn’t be doing,” he added, “is trying to take away your rights to bargain for better wages. We don’t want a race to the bottom. We want a race to the top.”
Again, we reiterate, this courageous move by the Republican majorities affords Michiganders that very opportunity — to compete in “a race to the top,” especially with their neighbors in Indiana.
We can’t emphasize enough how significant this development will be in this birthplace of unionism — that is, if Mr. Snyder follows through on his pledge and officially makes Michigan the 24th right-to-work state.
As Rich Lowry, editor of National Review, graphically observed Tuesday, “To say that such a development is stunning is almost an understatement. Michigan is to unionization what Florida is to sand, Texas is to oil, and Alaska is to grizzly bears. The union model hasn’t just been central to its economy, but to its very identity.”
But perhaps no more.