Michigan looks at right-to-work issue

Dec. 5, 2012 at 5:08 PM

LANSING, Mich., Dec. 5 (UPI) -- Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder said the issue of right-to-work, allowing non-union workers into union shops, was under discussion in the state capital.

Snyder said the issue, which is being pushed by conservative groups, is "on the agenda."

"There's been enough discussion now that it has been highlighted enough, it's an important issue, so we are going to talk about it," Snyder told reporters.

"There will be decisions made in the appropriate time frame," he said.

There was confusion as to what the time frame might be, but anticipation is high that a right-to-work bill would be introduce in the state capital by a Republican lawmaker in the near future, the Detroit Free Press reported Wednesday.

The issue of establishing the right for workers to work in a union shop, but not pay union dues, is considered divisive in Michigan, where the United Auto Workers union and the automobile industry have such a high profile presence, the newspaper said. Further, the Nov. 6 election included a referendum in Michigan called Proposition 2 that would have guaranteed collective bargaining rights in the state. But voters turned down that initiative, presenting right-to-work backers a window of opportunity.

"This is one of the most important steps you can take to jump-start the state's economy, boost employment and spur population growth," wrote Grover Norquist, founder of Americans for Tax Reform in a Nov. 30 letter to Republican lawmakers.

The Detroit News said the Michigan Chamber of Commerce had reversed its earlier opposition to a right-to-work and said Monday it would back right-to-work legislation.

Others called the issue divisive or a needless distraction. "We still hope the governor will do the right thing by standing up to the CEO [chief executive officer] bosses in his own party and pledging to veto a [right-to-work] bill," said Zack Pohl, executive director of Progress Michigan.

"We can't afford to waste time on divisive issues like RTW, which will weaken the middle class and won't create jobs," Pohl said.

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