Right-to-work legislation advances in Michigan, according to a story today by Steven Yaccino and Monica Davey. The gist of it is that the Republican majority in the State House will shrink by 10 in January, which is probably below the margin needed to pass whatever ends up getting reconciled with the Senate. So a push is on to get something done before the new legislature is seated.
It is unbelievable to think that Michigan -- home of the UAW and Jimmy Hoffa; the birthplace, one could argue, of postwar American prosperity -- could become a right-to-work state. But it's part of recent trend in the Rust Belt. Indiana passed a right-to-work law this year. Last year Wisconsin took away collective bargaining rights from its public sector workers. (Workers in Ohio beat back a similar attempt by putting it to a statewide vote.) The surge in anti-union legislation is a result of Tea Party success in the 2010 election. Fearful of being forced to purchase insurance for health care, reeling from the recession, embittered by seeing a black man living with his black wife in the White House, crackers got themselves to the polls in numbers great enough to shift legislative control to Republican majorities in 22 separate state chambers.
I work for a union local. For a living I go through boxes of old documents and sort what should be digitized and then shredded from what should be saved permanently and re-boxed from what should be discarded entirely. Each day I see proof of a different era, a time when organized labor was part of the Establishment. There was collaboration between unions on a common agenda. Now, from my vantage point on the lowest rung of the totem pole, it seems to be every man for himself, sink or swim, treading water from day to day.