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Michigan Takes a U-Turn Back to the Rust Belt

Stephen Moore on

No state in modern times has transitioned from a worker freedom state to one that forces workers to join a union and pay dues to labor bosses. All the momentum across the country in the last two decades has been in the opposite direction: allowing workers the right to choose a union -- or not.

That's why what happened last week in Lansing, Michigan, is such a tragic setback for workers' rights and for the economic competitiveness of the state where Henry Ford rolled off the assembly lines the iconic Model T some 100 years ago.

Thanks to a corrupt deal between the labor bosses, the Democratic state legislature and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, Michigan will no longer be a right-to-work state.

Is Whitmer intentionally TRYING to lose jobs in Michigan? Amazing how short the memories are in Lansing. Starting in the 1970s, Motown, which for decades had been the very symbol of America's industrial might, collapsed into the symbol of the American "Rust Belt." Closed-down factories turned Flint and Dearborn into virtual ghost towns.

From the 1970s to the early 2000s, Detroit crumbled into poverty. Whole neighborhoods were bulldozed, drug dealers were seemingly at every street corner, and homes were selling for less than $10,000 as the jobs disappeared and so did the families.

It wasn't that auto jobs left the country -- though some did. The real story was that the factories relocated out of the forced-union states and the moving vans delivered the jobs to South Carolina, Alabama, Texas and Tennessee. Why? Because these were states with pro-business policies that didn't cede control over to corrupt union brass.

Over the last three decades, right-to-work states created twice the number of jobs as forced-union states. According to Epoch Times reporter Kevin Stocklin, commenting on a 2022 Bureau of Labor Statistics report: During the COVID-19 pandemic, "Right-to-work (RTW) states added 1.3 million jobs since the start of the pandemic, while non-RTW states lost 1.1 million jobs."

That's one of many reasons why the booming South has taken over first place in terms of industrial production from the rusting Midwest and Northeast.

About a decade ago, Michigan realized it had to change or die. Michigan joined 25 other states and became a right-to-work state. Tens of thousands of workers said goodbye to the unions. Michigan made a comeback and a mini-renaissance followed. It was like the Michigan Wolverines winning the college football national championship.

 

But throughout this period, the unions were unrelenting in their opposition. They held protests in front of the capital, chanting, "Hey, hey, ho, ho, right to work has got to go!" They spent tens of millions of dollars to elect Democrats to get the law overturned.

Whitmer and her cronies also resorted to a false advertising campaign that this was all about "a restoration of workers' rights." Just the opposite. Forced unionization degrades workers' rights because from now on in Michigan, you must join the union, and you must pay dues to the corrupt union bosses. The United Auto Workers union has been plagued with financial fraud and massive pay packages to the union leaders. That doesn't trickle down to the rank-and-file workers whose paychecks are pilfered to pay for this largesse.

Right-to-work states do not prohibit unions. There are union facilities throughout the South. Every worker chooses for themselves whether to join or not. Many workers -- especially the hardest-working and most productive ones -- would rather negotiate their own salaries, which in many cases are HIGHER than the rigid union pay scale.

The unions have never answered a simple question: If the union label is so beneficial to workers, how come you need to force them to join?

Many businesses won't even consider locating a new factory or blue-collar operation in a forced-union state. The auto jobs in America will now accelerate their migration to the Southern states.

Gretchen Whitmer is turning back the clock. Not to the glory days of Michigan, but more probably to the era of the Rust Belt, with closed factory doors and longer unemployment lines. So much for "Hail to the Victors."

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Stephen Moore is chief economist at FreedomWorks and a senior fellow at the Heritage Foundation. His latest book is "Govzilla: How the Relentless Growth of Government Is Devouring Our Economy."


Copyright 2024 Creators Syndicate Inc.

 

 

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