LANSING – State Representative David E. Rutledge (D-Ypsilanti) today decried legislation that would create a so-called “right-to-work” policy in Michigan, a Republican plan to weaken collective bargaining rights in Michigan. The bill was shoved through to House passage today, narrowly passing by a 58-52 vote.

“This is simply a question of fairness,” Rutledge said. “This plan deprives labor organizations of the right to fairly collect dues from all members who directly benefit from the bargaining process, inevitably forcing unions to advocate for and represent workers’ needs without adequate resources. It’s a right to free-load bill.”

Federal law already requires a collective bargaining organization to advocate for all workers it represents. This bill would simply permit members to opt out of paying dues.

Under a right-to-work policy, workers who choose to pay union dues are forced to subsidize representation for their non-dues-paying co-workers. Studies by various organizations, including the Economic Policy Institute, demonstrate clearly that right-to-work policies result in lower wages and poor benefits for all workers, unionized and nonunionized.

The House took up HB 4054 Thursday without a single committee hearing and without testimony by members of the public. The bill includes an appropriation, so if signed into law, Michigan voters cannot repeal it in a ballot referendum, according to the state Constitution.

“This bill is nothing more than an attempt to erode workers’ rights,” said Rutledge. “At the eleventh hour of the legislative session, in the final days of the 2011-2012 term when we should be focusing on moving our state forward, this plan is about Republican leadership retaliating against their political adversaries.”