Protesters are marching on the Michigan Capitol Building today, where lawmakers are expected to approve the final version of a so-called “right-to-work” law. Gov. Rick Snyder (R-MI), who had previously said he wouldn’t pursue such anti-union legislation, has indicated he’ll sign the measure.
During an interview on WWJ Newsradio 950, Snyder claimed that the law is necessary in order to boost Michigan’s economy. “This is about more and better jobs coming to Michigan,” he said:
“Michigan is not unique in doing this. Twenty-three other states are right-to-work states and they’ve been fast growing, in terms of their economic growth in relationship to other states… If you look at Indiana, Indiana’s had at least 30 companies accept offers from the Indiana Academic Development Corporation since they did this in February that are bringing thousands of good jobs to Indiana. And we could use those jobs here in Michigan,” he said.
And more jobs in Michigan is something Snyder said will benefit all the state’s residents.
“This is about more and better jobs coming to Michigan because a lot of companies do look at this as a major factor in their analysis. We’ll then be more competitive as a state and that’s good for all of us. It’s good for workers and good for unions, because it gives them more of an opportunity to grow themselves,” he said.
There is really no economic evidence showing “right-to-work” laws leading to more jobs or better outcomes for workers. This is seen plainly in analysis looking at the impact of such laws in Oklahoma, the only other state to adopt a right-to-work law in the past 25 years prior to Indiana doing so in 2011 and Michigan’s current legislative move. In fact, economists Sylvia Allegretto and Gordon Lafer of the University of California, Berkeley and University of Oregon, respectively, show that since Oklahoma’s law passed in 2001, manufacturing employment and business relocations to the state actually reversed their “pre-right-to-work” increases and began to fall — and this at a time when Oklahoma’s extractive industry economies were booming. To the contrary, these researchers show that right-to-work laws have failed to increase employment growth in the 22 states that have adopted them.
Instead, right-to-work laws simply result in lower wages and fewer benefits for workers, union and non-union alike. In Michigan (and across the country), as unionization rates fall, so does middle-class income. President Obama yesterday blasted right-to-work as “giving you the right to work for less money.”