The economic policy drift in Washington is antigrowth, but here and there in the states are glimmers of hope and change. The best news of late is in Michigan, which is poised this week to pass a landmark right-to-work law.
You can tell this is a big deal based on the fury of Big Labor’s reaction. Union activists plan to descend on Lansing Tuesday to protest, including many from out of state. State police will have to be on duty to ensure that legislators can get through what is likely to be a loud and abusive cordon of activists who want to block the vote.
This thuggishness is a deliberate and familiar union political strategy: Cause as big a ruckus as possible in hopes of making right to work seem radical when it’s already the law in nearly half the country.
We hope Republicans and Governor Rick Snyder aren’t intimidated, because they have the moral and policy high ground. Union activists want voters to believe that right-to-work laws deny union organizing rights, or ban collective bargaining. President Obama peddled this distortion on Monday in Redford, Michigan, claiming that "what we shouldn’t be doing is trying to take away your rights to bargain for better wages and working conditions."
Right to work does no such thing. It empowers individual workers. As allowed under the 1947 Taft-Hartley Act, right to work merely lets individual workers choose for themselves if they want to join a union. The laws prevent closed union shops, which coerce individual workers to join unions and to pay union dues. A teacher who opts out under right to work, for example, could save several hundred dollars in annual union dues that go to political causes he may not even believe in.