You have the right to not pay union dues

Labor groups should have to convince members that their goods and services are worth the price demanded — and not just take the money and run

Edward Morrissey

Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose. The battle between unions and state governments continued this week — just as it has for the last two years — in territory normally considered friendly for labor organizations. In the winter of 2011, Wisconsin forced an end to mandatory union contributions for state employees — and conservatives subsequently fought through two recalls, leaving in place both the public-employee union reforms and the GOP governor who forced the issue. Indiana followed suit in 2012, passing right-to-work legislation, becoming the first Rust Belt state to do so. Both state legislatures faced massive union protests, but in the end, very little electoral punishment for reforming workplaces to allow employee choice for funding union activities.

That set the stage for what might have been the most unlikely battleground for the right-to-work movement: Michigan. The home of the American auto industry has a long, proud tradition of unionism. Unlike most other states, where unions mainly represent public-sector workers, the private-sector unions have remained strong in the Wolverine State, primarily in the auto industry. Their political power was demonstrated in the bailouts of General Motors and Chrysler, especially in the government intervention in the bankruptcy process for both companies, which favored the unions over senior investors. If any state could resist right-to-work legislation, it should have been Michigan and its union movement.

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