While Washington obsesses about the “fiscal cliff,” there are potentially more consequential events taking place far from the halls of Congress. In a move that rivals and perhaps surpasses the decision to limit organized labor’s collective bargaining powers in Wisconsin, Republican lawmakers in Michigan are expected to pass final legislation Tuesday to end the requirement that workers pay union dues or fees as a condition of their employment.
If the GOP succeeds, Michigan, home of the nation’s heavily unionized auto industry, will become the 24th right-to-work state in the country — a development that would have been unthinkable just a few years ago.
Republicans say the move would not only give current workers the freedom to choose whether to join a union and pay dues but would, more importantly, bring many, many new jobs to Michigan. Rep. Gov. Rick Snyder, who supports the bill, points out that Indiana enacted (after a long and bitter fight) the same kind of law earlier this year. “We’ve carefully watched what’s gone on in Indiana since they passed similar legislation back in February,” Snyder told Fox News’ Greta van Susteren last week, “and they’ve seen a significant increase in the number of companies talking about [bringing] thousands of jobs to their state.”