Michigan Republican lawmakers are taking a page out of George W. Bush’s playbook and naming a piece of onerous and harmful legislation and giving it a nice sounding name that that evokes good feelings, but in reality it does the exact opposite of its name.
For example, Bush has saddled the country with the following legislation that does exactly the opposite of what its name implies: “The Clear Skies act,” the “Healthy Forest Initiative” and “No Child Left Behind.” Now we have House Republicans doing the same thing with House Bill 4454, introduced by Rep. Jack Hoogendyk, R-Kalamazoo, known as the “right to work law.” A better name would be the right to weaken unions, do away with collective bargaining and endanger workers act.
Unions created the middle class, gave millions of Americans and their families access to quality education, quality health care, fair wages and protection from being killed or maimed on the job.
This law fits right in with Republicans who hate to invest in the state and country and hate to do their patriotic duty and pay their fair share of taxes. Unions raised the wages of all workers, even those that do not belong to unions and did not face death and injury at the hands of company hired thugs and police acting on behalf of plant owners. Even those workers that did not pay union dues or risked everything by going on strike for better wages, benefits and working conditions. This bill will force unions to give the protections and benefits they won with hard work and determination to those workers who do not contribute to the union via union dues, enjoy the benefits won by collective bargaining by union leaders and receive the same physical protections won by the hard work and sacrifice of union members.
This bill will give management, which already holds all the cards, even more clout. A look at CEO compensation helps you realize why unions are needed now more than ever. In 1965 the average CEO was earning 24 times what the average worker was making. But in 2005, the average CEO was making 262 times what the average worker is making. The gap between the haves and have-nots is growing wider every day, and this will make it even wider.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, workers in so called “right to work states” earn about $5,300 less, they lack health care insurance or it is extremely expensive and they receive less for Worker’s Compensation if injured on the job.
To show you how far Republicans have strayed from the principals that helped make this country strong, check out this quote from Republican President Dwight D. Eisenhower:
“Only a handful of reactionaries harbor the ugly thought of breaking unions and of depriving working men and women of the right to join the union of their choice,” he said. “I have no use for those- regardless of their political party – who hold some vain and foolish dream of spinning the clock back to the days when organized labor was huddled, almost as a helpless mass.”
Apparently we have some reactionaries in the Michigan House. This is just one more salvo in the battle to destroy unions by corporations that are getting bigger and more powerful everyday.