JIM CREES: Right to work? Really?

OK. Lets talk Right To Work.

Gov. Rick Snyder, Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville and Speaker of the House Jase Bolger have all pushed through legislation to enact “freedom-to-work laws.”

Your local representatives - both Darwin Booher and Phil Potvin - enthusiastically supported the move.

Let’s take a few minutes to think what such a move actually IS, and what such legislation actually ISN’T.

Right To Work certainly IS the fulfillment of a Republican dream in Michigan. It will show that Snyder could do what Engler couldn’t.

That’s about it, ‘cause the truth of the matter is, ladies and gentlemen, there already is a “right to work” in Michigan.

There are union shops, and there are non-union shops. Looking for a job? Take your pick.

If you don’t like the idea of working in a union shop - Don’t.

If you are a fervent backer of a specific union, or just want the perks a union shop may provide - Go that direction.

It’s your right to work where you please.

For example, if you want to be a teacher, there are options. You can teach in public schools, (a union shop), or you can teach in any number of private schools, (parochial, charter, or otherwise.)

If you are concerned that private-sector school employment benefits and pay may not be as good as in a public school, welllllllllll ...that’s because the unions have fought for their teacher’s contractual arrangements.

If you don’t want to pay union dues, then don’t accept union scale or union negotiated benefits.

The fact of life is that even in Michigan, if you don’t want a union job, there are plenty of non-union shops.

Take your pick.

I’m not saying it will be better or worse. It may be different, but you’ll decide if it is better or worse for you.

Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, here’s the deal. A majority of the people in this country still activily support the unions - 52 percent nationwide. Every single demographic supports the workers’ right to organize ...EXCEPT Republicans.

Still, even the most vehement anti-union activists, including Republicans, have benefited from a century of union struggles in these United States.

The trouble is, too many people are willing to let someone else fight for them; let someone else fight for a decent wage and fair working conditions; let someone else take the beatings, and then call the same people who fought for their rights as workers ‘socialists’ or ‘instigators.’

Everyone, EVERYONE, has benefited from union activity in this nation.

● Today, workers - both union and non-union - enjoy decent work hours. It was a unionized organization of stonemasons who first fought for the idea of an eight-hour workday. Eight-hours a day, 40-hours a week is still the ‘standard’ for a full time job - thanks to the unions, not to the beneficence of ‘management.’

● Most places of work have a fair and decent wage scale - thanks to unions.  It was the unions that insisted a working stiff be paid a wage that would support his or her family. It was only later that the idea of a legislated minimum wage was formulated. It was the unions, and ONLY the unions, that conceptualized the idea of overtime and holiday pay.

● It was only thanks to unions that work places were made dramatically safer than they had or have ever been. Government programs of workplace safety came years, (in fact generations), after union negotiated safety programs. It was only because of unions that people who were hurt in the workplace were compensated for their economic losses.

● Unions gave workers a weekend, paid holidays and strived for more equal pay for women. (There’s a long way to go.) Unions brought child labor to an end. Unions developed workplace healthcare programs.

And all these benefits are enjoyed by all American workers - union and non-union.

The fact of life is that wages are on an average of 3.2 percent lower in states that have legislated Right To Work laws than in those who still let the market decide.

Michigan anti-union activists try to claim that the unions are keeping the jobs out of this state, and are slowing economic development and recovery.

Yet, in a study carried out by economist Gordon Lafer it has been shown that there is no correlation between having Right To Work, and positive job creation. None.

The fact of life is ...states that passed anti-union legislation lost manufacturing jobs as a result of NAFTA just as did ones with strong union rights.

Truth be known, the GOP in Lansing wants to crush union political power, and they are willing to do it on the back of workers around the state.

You want Right To Work? You already have it.

Don’t go to work in a union shop.

And don’t misunderstand me. I firmly believe that if a person wants to work in a union shop and not pay the dues, they shouldn’t be made to do so.

But at the same time, if they don’t pay their dues they should be made to negotiate their own wage scale and benefits packet, and not expect the same pay and benefits or enjoy the same job security as union members.

Listen, boys and girls, if you want to dance, you have to pay the piper.