It seems appropriate that after Michigan Governor Rick Snyder (R) shepherded through the state House and Senate the right-wing extremist and corporate CEO backed “right to work” for less legislation—that he had long-called “too divisive to pursue”—without any public input, that he would sign the measure in secret Tuesday.
With as many as 15,000 people swarming the state Capitol in Lansing denouncing Snyder and the legislature for bowing to the likes of the Koch brothers, Grover Norquist, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and the extremes of the Republican Party, Snyder retreated behind closed doors to sign the legislation and, only after the fact, announced his signature. Here are some details of the legislation that, if it follows the pattern of “right to work” laws in other states, will lower the standard of living for Michigan workers.
- The new law that applies to both public and private employees does not take effect until 90 days after the legislature adjourns for 2012, making its effective date likely in early April.
- Michigan’s “right to work” for less law does not cover existing contracts. In other words, if a contract does not expire until 2015, that’s when the new law will take effect.
- Union members can still have dues deducted. But workers who are nonunion members in a workplace with a union contract—and whom the union must continue to fairly represent—can opt out of paying their fair share of costs related to bargaining for wages, benefits, working conditions, safety, grievance protection and other benefits.
- The “right to work” for less law can be overturned. In an attempt to prevent a “citizens’ veto” referendum in 2013, Republicans included an appropriation in the bill, which could disqualify such a referendum in a 2013 special election. Michigan working families can also–with a higher signature threshold–put an initiative on the 2014 ballot to overturn the “right to work” for less law.
For more, check out the AFL-CIO’s new Primer on “Right to Work” for Less that includes a “Right to Work” Q and A.
Mike Hall is a former West Virginia newspaper reporter, staff writer for the United Mine Workers Journal and managing editor of the Seafarers Log. This post first appeared on Labor’s Edge and is republished with permission.