Groups Vow to Push ‘Right to Work’ in Other States

Michigan labor groups still protesting against right-to-work bill, signed by the state’s governor Rick Snyder.

Michigan groups still can’t agree with the recently passed two measures to ban unions from requiring workers to pay membership dues. Photo: United Steelworkers/Flickr

Michigan enacted a ban on mandatory union membership on Tuesday, dealing a stunning blow to organized labor in the state that is home to U.S. automakers and the symbol of industrial labor in the United States.

“‘You’re opening up the whole realm of labor issues, including right-to-work, so I would expect to see a big push for right-to-work. So please, don’t go ahead,’ ” governor Snyder said he told protesting labor groups, adding: “They ignored that advice.”

Labor expert Richard Hurd of Cornell University predicted that unions in the state might lose 20 percent to 30 percent of their revenue, although it’s difficult to count precise figures.

Before Indiana, which was the last state to agree on a right-to-work system, was Oklahoma in 2001.

In the 26 states which don’t have such legislation, conservatives have a renewed sense of hope, Washington Post reports.

“I support this goal on the national and state level and look forward to Kentucky joining Michigan in the near future,” Sen. Rand Paul  said in a statement.

Even in New Jersey, a major backer of such bills did admit that the shift this week in Lansing had changed some minds.

“I think that what happened in Michigan sent a signal that people in states with histories of strong unions are now open to a new perspective,” said state Assemblywoman Amy H. Handlin.

At the same time, national labor officials announced yesterday that they were confident that no other states would follow Michigan’s lead in the near future.

“In terms of bigger, bluer, more-union states, we’re not worried that this is going to lead to a new anti-union push in those states,” said Eddie Vale, spokesman for Workers’ Voice, a super PAC associated with the AFL-CIO.

“There still will be state battles, but I think that we’re getting to the end of the 2010 tea-party wave rather than a resurgence of them,” he added.

On Wednesday, a survey of state leaders showed that a right-to-work bill would still face plenty of obstacles in many places.

Meanwhile, conservatives still believe that a right-to-work law will be applied in Montana, but Gov.-elect Steve Bullock promised to stand against it: “I don’t think that’s what we need to build our economy.”

The situation is similar in New Hampshire. “I would veto it if it came to my desk,” Gov.-elect Maggie Hassan said in an interview on Wednesday.

In both Kentucky and Missouri, Democratic governors also went public, expressing their dissatisfaction with similar laws.

In Maine, Paul LePage voiced his supports for right-to-work legislation but is likely to run into opposition in the soon-to-be-Democratic state legislature.

State Rep. Tom Winsor, who has previously stood for right-to-work legislation, said: “I’m not the brightest bulb, but I can count noses.”

Even GOP-controlled states were leery yesterday.

“If I could wave a magic wand, I would do it tomorrow. But in terms of trying to get it through our legislative process, it is a very heavy lift,” said David Patti, president of the Pennsylvania Business Council.

When asked whether a right-to-work bill will be passed there, the politician flatly resonded “No.”

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