Midwest states are focus of a new push for Right-To-Work in 2011
By Kyle Maichle
The states of Missouri, Michigan, Indiana, and Wisconsin are considering Right-To-Work legislation. Currently, the only states in the Midwest that have Right-To-Work laws are Iowa, North Dakota, and South Dakota. Right-To-Work is a law that forbids mandatory union membership or the payment of union dues as a condition of employment.
In the Show-Me-State, the new President Pro-Temp of the Missouri Senate Rob Mayer, sponsored legislation for the 2011 session to make Missouri Right-To-Work. This is not the first time Right-To-Work was considered there. In 1978, Missourians voted on Issue 23 to make Missouri Right-To-Work. Issue 23 was rejected by the voters. In 1978, Missouri was one the top five states in the nation for union membership at 25 percent. In 2010, only 11.2 percent of its citizens are union members. Despite the GOP controls both houses of the General Assembly, passage of Right-To-Work could face a veto threat from Democrat Governor Jay Nixon who faces re-election in 2012. Even if the bill gets vetoed, GOP lawmakers in Missouri could use the initiative process to get "Right to Work" on the 2012 ballot.
The Michigan chapter of Americans for Prosperity has been advocating for the Wolverine State to become Right-To-Work since 2007. The Michigan chapter of the national economic advocacy group has been pressuring the Michigan Legislature to sign a bill into law or use the initiative process to put "Right-to-Work" on the ballot. However, incoming Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville was reluctant about putting "Right-to-Work" on it's 2011 agenda. Richardville told a Michigan radio station that the state's economic recovery could be disrupted if mandatory union membership is prohibited. The Senator cited that 20 percent of Michiganders are union members. The comments of the incoming Senate Majority Leader has earned him criticism from the state's top conservative organizations like the Macinkac Center who want Michigan to be Right-To-Work.
Empowered by Republicans regaining control of both houses of the Indiana Legislature, lawmakers filed a bill for the 2011 session to make the Hoosier State Right-To-Work. State Rep. Wes Culver, who is the lead sponsor of the bill, said that Right-To-Work is necessary to improve economic growth in Indiana. Right-To-Work was the law in Indiana from 1956 to 1965 until it was repealed. However, Rep. Culver told the Anderson Herald-Bulletin that the bill will have a tough fight ahead in the new session as lawmakers are focusing on balancing the state budget. The Indiana Chapter of the AFL-CIO has sad that stopping Right-To-Work legislation is their top priority for 2011.
With Wisconsin Republicans regaining control of both houses of the Legislature, the possibility of the Badger State becoming Right-To-Work is on the radar screen. Incoming Senate President Scott Fitzgerald told WisPolitics.com that the momentum for Right-to-Work is unprecedented citing a large amount of discussion between lawmakers in his caucus on the issue. Fitzgerald told attendees of a luncheon hosted by WisPolitics on December 8, 2010, that new Senate members want reforms of state labor laws and argued Right-to-Work could part of a strategy for improving the state's economy. However, Democrat lawmakers are not happy about Right-to-Work being considered. Incoming Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca expressed concern about Wisconsin becoming "Right-to-Work" and said that job creation should be a bi-partisan priority of the new Legislature.
- National Right-To-Work Foundation, "Right-To-Work States"
- Mackinac Center, "Right-to-Work FAQ," June 28, 2007
- News Leader, "What others are saying," November 27, 2010
- Americans for Prosperity, "Right to Work Given 50% Chance on '08 Ballot," July 24, 2007
- Americans for Prosperity-Michigan, "Right To Work"
- Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Right-to-Work: Resistance Is Feudal," November 23, 2010
- Herald-Bulletin, "Indiana lawmaker revives ‘right to work’ legislation," December 6, 2010
- WisPolitics, "Sen. Fitzgerald says lawmakers discussing 'right to work'," December 9, 2010