*More than 45 years ago, Martin Luther King Jr. said, “We must guard against being fooled by false slogans, such as ‘right to work.’ It is a law to rob us of our civil rights and job rights.”
It was true then and it’s true now as Michigan’s Republican Governor Rick Snyder signed the legislation this past Tuesday.
The manner in which Gov. Snyder and the Republican legislature passed the bill, and the fact that the legislation is backed by billionaire businessmen (see Koch brothers), illustrates the blatant, right-wing support of corporations and their flippant indifference toward hardworking, middle-class families. It is no wonder that many of the legislators waited to pass this bill until the lame duck session because in a few weeks, those who voted for right-to-work (RTW), will actually be out of office.
When Republican politicians champion RTW legislation, they are only allowing corporations to pay workers less. Studies show that RTW laws have no positive impact on job growth and actually reduce pay by up to $1,500 a year. Furthermore, 6 of the 10 states with highest unemployment have RTW laws in place.
For African Americans, Michigan’s RTW is especially detrimental. Thirty-two percent of all African American workers in Michigan are union members compared to only 17.5% of all Michigan workers. RTW also has the potential to limit the gains made by black unionized workers. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, African-American workers earn 30 percent more than their non-union counterparts; are 16 percent more likely to have employer-provided health coverage; and are 19 percent more likely to have pensions.
In the midst of all the “fiscal cliff” news, consider a close examination of the impact of Right-to-Work (for less) and similar anti-worker legislation that make it harder for African American workers who, as a group have historically suffered job and wage discrimination and other disparities such as access to healthcare and secure retirement. Unions are an essential part of strengthening our economy and uplifting working families. When all workers prosper, so does our country.
Watch this video report of protests of the new law from ABC News: