LANSING – One year ago today, Republicans in the Legislature and the governor’s office rushed so-called “right to work” legislation into law without any public hearings and despite the protest of 12,000 people on the Capitol lawn, promising that it would lead to job creation and a better economy in Michigan. Not only have the jobs not materialized, but Michigan’s unemployment rate is now higher than it was when the legislation was signed into law. The state’s jobless rate stood at 9 percent in October, the last month for which information was available, compared with 8.9 percent in December 2012. There are now 423,000 Michiganders looking for work, up from 414,000 when the laws were passed.
“Republicans obviously failed to make good on their promise to create jobs for Michigan,” House Democratic Leader Tim Greimel (D-Auburn Hills) said. “They promised us prosperity and instead delivered ongoing poverty for hundreds of thousands of Michigan workers who only want to go back to work. They owe the people of Michigan an apology for making empty promises at the expense of Michigan’s middle-class families.”
While the governor continues to call Michigan the “comeback state,” many companies have decided to leave in the past year. Perrigo Co., an Allegan-based manufacturer of store-brand, over-the-counter drugs, announced it was moving its headquarters and will become an Irish company – a move that will cost the U.S. and Michigan $150 million in tax revenue in the first year alone. PulteGroup, one of the country’s largest home builders, is leaving its Bloomfield Hills headquarters and moving to Atlanta, taking 325 jobs with it.
“Nothing undermines the ‘right to work’ more than a lack of jobs, and Republicans haven’t figured out how to bring them to Michigan,” Rep. Brandon Dillon (D-Grand Rapids) said. “Their policies aren’t working, and neither are too many Michiganders who simply want a good job.”
Democrats have decried the “right-to-work” laws, which weaken bargaining rights and place workers at a disadvantage in the workplace. For example, the laws require labor organizations to provide benefits to all qualifying workers at a job site, whether they pay dues or not – leading some to call the laws “freedom-to-freeload” rather than “right-to-work.” House Democrats have pledged to restore worker protections.
“Republicans promised that so-called right-to-work would bring jobs to Michigan, but one year later, it’s clear that this is just another Republican broken promise,” Rep. Kate Segal (D-Battle Creek) said. “Right-to-work was never about jobs; it was about political agendas and corporate special interests. It’s time to admit that right-to-work was always wrong for Michigan by restoring workers’ rights and finding real solutions for Michigan’s stalled economy.”