JAMES ROBERTS: Right-two-work legislation is not good for state’s economy

TO THE EDITOR:

With the passage of right-to-work (RTW) bills in both houses last week, and the certainty that Gov. Rick Snyder will sign one, Michigan throws in with Alabama, Mississippi and 20 more “red” states in the race to the bottom of the economic ladder. It is a sad day for Michigan, which once was a model for middle-class upward mobility.

To no one’s surprise, both of our local elected-millionaires voted in support, with Rep. Phil Potvin mouthing his usual circuitous blah-blah. Sen. Darwin Booher was more creative, opting for some sly number-spinning in citing statistics that show “higher average wage increases” in RTW states. Well, yes, Darwin, if I’m making $25 per hour and get a dollar increase, I’m only up 4 percent, while my RTW states counterpart making $10 gets a 10 percent increase if his wages go up a buck. I’d still rather be working for $26 than $11.

“Freedom” seemed to be every other word in the justifications of this abomination, staggering hypocrisy from the party that suppresses the vote, fights to end reproductive choice and even removed the public’s freedom to overturn this act, via referendum, by tying it to an appropriations bill. Not to mention ramming it through the lame duck session, going from “not on the agenda” to “done deal” in the blink of an eye. (How perfect that it hit the headlines on Pearl Harbor Day!)

No doubt it was passed for “immediate effect,” by way of the usual two-thirds (or “close enough”) voice vote. Ah, freedom.

Well, we ourselves bear ultimate responsibility for the death-by-a-thousand-cuts of Michigan’s middle class. We have insisted on electing enough of these people to make it possible. And, hey – what do I know? – maybe lower wages, in exchange for not having to join a union, is a good trade-off in some people’s minds. Maybe they haven’t really thought about why union workers get higher wages and better benefits in the first place. I don’t know, but I’m sure glad I’m not at the front end of my working life in our once-great state.

James Roberts

Big Rapids

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