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Michigan’s “Right to Work” law already working

Michigan’s “Right to Work” law already working

That was fast!

Shortly after the ink was dry on the state’s new “Right to Work” law, Michigan Governor  Rick Snyder reports that state economic development officials are hearing from manufacturers interested in moving to area.

Snyder said it’s “premature” to name the companies, but indicated Michigan’s foray into the right-to-work movement may help change its image as a union stronghold.

“The phone’s already been ringing at the MEDC (Michigan Economic Development Corp.) since we passed that legislation,” Snyder said Friday in meeting with reporters. “People are starting to look at Michigan.”…

Rich Studley, president and CEO of the Michigan Chamber of Commerce, said his phone has been “ringing off the hook” for the past week with calls from out-of-state business owners and economic development officials seeking confirmation of news accounts they read about the right-to-work law.

Lloyd Conway, a Michigan activist who now serves as one of two Councillors at-large for the City of Charlotte, was actually at the protest events that preceded the passage — though he did not see any violence such as the attack on conservative entertainer Steven Crowder.   He viewed the experience as “witnessing history”. He offers these insights as to what the “Right to Work” passage means in a larger context.

In a society where labor exercises inordinate power, the economy can become uncompetitive due to high cost, restrictive work rules, et cetera. Such may have been the case with pre-Thatcher England. In a society where capital has an inordinate share of power, workers may feel as though they are living in a Dickensean world where their wages are subject to an ‘iron law’ that keeps them as low as possible while the government is the creature of the monied classes. In either case, the social machinery is clearly out of whack.

Regardless of what one may think of unionism, unions serve as a check and balance (when they do their job) on large, corporate bodies with vast resources. Thus, the question that should have been asked is, ‘How will these laws affect the balance of power, both economically and politically?’

Just as our government was intended to work as a system where each branch and level checked and balanced the others, so our economy, until the age of large, corporate enterprises gives way to another form of social/economic organization, may function best when each center of power is checked by a rival of roughly equal strength.

Only time will tell how Michigan’s experiment with ‘right-to-work’ will turn out. Students of political economy will also be watching to see how it affects society beyond the negotiating table.

My bet is that Michigan is going to have some history-making economic growth.  I may have to consider moving back!

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Comments

Re: Lloyd Convoy’s comment about unions balancing the great power of a large corporation, hence can be a good thing.

“Regardless of what one may think of unionism, unions serve as a check and balance (when they do their job) on large, corporate bodies with vast resources. Thus, the question that should have been asked is, ‘How will these laws affect the balance of power, both economically and politically?’”

In a highly competitive industry, the “balancing power” for one company is competition from another company. Both employees and customers can “take their business (or labor) across the street” to a competing company if they’re unhappy with the quality of the goods or services (a customer) or unhappy with the working conditions, treatment by your bosses, or the pay (if you’re a worker). Ideally, in a truly free market, there are lots of competing companies, so your choices aren’t limited to just two or three companies.

Even if that kind of consolidation does occur, if those “duopolies,” say, start exhibiting “monopoly behavior,” then 3rd companies will be started to exploit their too-expensive goods and services. If management treats good employees badly, they can spin off and start a new company and compete with the existing companies. Treating workers well usually results in better work output than treating them like dirt!

Bottom line for me: There’s no need for labor unions at all – IF we have a highly deregulated, truly free market which allows new entrants to start up, which allows employees to freely move from company to company. (Workers can often switch to allied industries that need their skills, too.)

BannedbytheGuardian | December 23, 2012 at 9:05 pm

Michigan has been,owing its engineering / industrial graduates at an alarming rate.

I caught an article on a business blog with the numbers . I believe they would lose a whole industrial era generation if it went on & that MI would never get them again.

BannedbytheGuardian | December 23, 2012 at 9:06 pm

Losing it’s grads.

I would think that businesses would first want to see the outcome of any legal challenges to the new law before setting-up shop in Michigan.

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