Shocker: Obama Not Enthused About Michigan’s Move Toward Right-To-Work Status


Not surprisingly, President Obama isn’t happy about impending legislation in the State of Michigan that would make the state a right-to-work state.

President Barack Obama sharply criticized efforts in Michigan to make the state the second right-to-work state in the Midwest in speech Monday in Redford, Mich.

“What we shouldn’t do–I just gotta say this–what we shouldn’t be doing is trying to take away your rights to bargain for better wages and working conditions,” Obama said in the speech, which was meant to be on fiscal cliff issues. “We shouldn’t be doing that.”

“You know, these so-called right-to-work laws don’t have to do with economics, they have to do with politics,” Obama continued. “What they’re really talking about is giving you the right to work for less money.”

Obama makes it sound as though Michigan is going to deny workers there the right to join a union and bargain for better compensation. But that’s not what right to work legislation does. What it does is allow workers to decide whether or not they want to belong to a union.

Shouldn’t workers have that right too? Shouldn’t they get to decide if they want to pay union dues?

Of course, Democrats think union dues should be mandatory from workers, given how much money the unions funnel into electing Democrats. And Michigan, the home to one of the largest and most influential private sector unions in the nation the UAW, would be a particularly tough loss for them. But as a non-partisan, non-political point of principle why shouldn’t workers be able to choose when it comes to joining a union?

If the union is so great for workers, then surely the workers will happily sign up to pay dues to support it? Given the national decline in union membership, maybe workers are deciding that the unions and their dues and their activism aren’t really what’s best for them?

Rob Port

Rob Port is the editor of In 2011 he was a finalist for the Watch Dog of the Year from the Sam Adams Alliance and winner of the Americans For Prosperity Award for Online Excellence. In 2013 the Washington Post named SAB one of the nation's top state-based political blogs, and named Rob one of the state's best political reporters.

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