Economic Development and Government

West Michigan Policy Forum stands behind Snyder and right-to-work bills

December 7, 2012
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West Michigan Policy Forum leaders are happy to hear right-to-work legislation is back on the table and days from becoming law.

Jared Rodriguez –– president of the WMPF, the regional businsess voice on state policy –– said the organization fully supports Gov. Rick Snyder’s recent decision to quickly move forward on right-to-work legislation.

Rodriguez, who referred to the legislation as “freedom to work,” called it an important piece of strategic policy, helping hang a sign over the state border showing outside companies that Michigan is open for business.

“We see freedom to work as putting decisions back in the hands of all Michigan workers in terms of how they spend their hard-earned paycheck,” Rodriguez said. “Ultimately, we see this as a building block to moving Michigan forward. The focus has to be on Michigan workers and that’s who needs to benefit from this.”

In 2008, WMPF included and adopted a policy goal to make Michigan a right-to-work state. This move was upheld at both its 2010 and 2012 forums.

“The Policy Forum has been working toward making Michigan a freedom-to-work state since 2008, when attendees at its inaugural forum voted for it as one of the state’s top policy priorities,” said Nick Butterfield, project coordinator at the public relations firm Seyferth.

Generally, right-to-work laws mean workers are not required to join a union and can opt out of paying certain union dues.

Opponents of the movement believe the legislation suppresses wages and benefits for workers, undermining the overall function and stability of Michigan unions.

Rodriguez was adamant, however, that the legislation was not “union busting or bashing,” but actually helping local unions by making the state more economically profitable and by making union bosses more accountable to their members.

“If Michigan becomes a freedom-to-work state, more industry will move here, which would mean more jobs for workers who don’t currently have jobs,” he said. “It will bring middle-class jobs and help the overall economy. There will be more workers receiving a paycheck, who then have the opportunity to join a union if they want.”

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