President Barack Obama sharply criticized efforts in Michigan to make the state the second right-to-work state in the Midwest in speech Monday in Redford, Mich.
“What we shouldn’t do–I just gotta say this–what we shouldn’t be doing is trying to take away your rights to bargain for better wages and working conditions,” Obama said in the speech, which was meant to be on fiscal cliff issues. “We shouldn’t be doing that.”
“You know, these so-called right-to-work laws don’t have to do with economics, they have to do with politics,” Obama continued. “What they’re really talking about is giving you the right to work for less money.”
Employees in Michigan are required to pay dues in unionized shops or pay an agency fee, regardless of whether the employees belong to the union. The Washington Free Beacon reported on Michigan Republican efforts last week:
The system has helped make Michigan one of the most heavily unionized states in the country. More than 17 percent of workers belong to unions, 50 percent higher than the national average. […]
Republican Gov. Rick Snyder has passed a number of labor reforms since taking office in 2011 but had previously ruled out right-to-work legislation. He reversed himself on Tuesday, announcing that the reform would be part of his agenda.
Ending mandatory union dues has taken a large toll on unions in other states. Wisconsin’s largest teacher unions have seen membership drop 30 percent since Gov. Scott Walker made dues voluntary for state workers. They are considering a merger to reverse the loss and preserve their political clout.