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Posted on Tue, Mar 5, 2013 : 10:30 a.m.

Right-to-work in Michigan: Western Washtenaw Democrats to host panel Thursday

By Amy Biolchini

Michigan Sen. Gretchen Whitmer, D-East Lansing, and Karla Swift, the president of the Michigan AFL-CIO, will be among the panelists at a right-to-work discussion Thursday coordinated by the Western Washtenaw Democrats.


Sen. Gretchen Whitmer, D-East Lansing

Angela J. Cesere | file photo

The panel will begin at 7 p.m. Thursday at the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers hall at 7920 Jackson Road in Scio Township.

Other speakers include David Hecker, president of the Michigan American Federation of Teachers.

The panel will discuss impacts of the law, which takes effect in Michigan March 27. Reactionary measures, lawsuits and citizen action also will be a part of the discussion.

The Michigan legislature passed the so-called right-to-work law in December.

The measure opens previously closed union shops by removing a security clause in contracts that required the payment of union dues as a condition of employment.

Amy Biolchini covers Washtenaw County, health and environmental issues for Reach her at (734) 623-2552, or on Twitter.



Wed, Mar 6, 2013 : 1:20 p.m.

Where do I go to get one of these jobs that is now my RIGHT? Right: noun: a just claim or title, whether legal, prescriptive, or moral that which is due to anyone by just claim, legal guarantees, moral principles, etc Or is it that I have a RIGHT to get benefits that I don't pay for? I thought that was bad? The GOP has been telling me it is wrong to take what I don't pay for for years, why the change? Because people with good benefits give to the other political party? Do they propose that any group that gives to politicians allow their members to not pay dues, but continue to get any benefits from the group? Can I not pay NRA dues yet still participate in NRA events? Can I get an AARP discount without paying dues to the AARP? Can I get insurance through the Chamber of Commerce but not pay my annual dues? Can I get AAA insurance but not pay my premiums (because I don't like what AAA lobbies for sometimes ) Can I join the Barton Hills Country Club but not pay my dues?


Wed, Mar 6, 2013 : 6:09 p.m.

Clownfish, No one is telling you to stop paying your dues to the union. If you are a member of the union, then you are required to pay dues to the union. If you don't want to be a member of the union, and have not requested the union to represent you, then you no longer have to pay the fee. Why should people who are not members of the union be forced to pay a fee to the union? And before you say because they negotiated their benefits, let me add this: The union CHOSE to negotiate the benefits of those that are NOT members of the union. Now the unions can simply CHOOSE not to represent those who who are NOT members of the unions. It's the unions choice. I thought you were about choice?


Wed, Mar 6, 2013 : 5:15 p.m.

The MI could make all my examples "rights" by passing laws similar in notion as the misnamed Right to Work laws. If If I can collect union wages and benefits, get better working conditions etc without paying dues: Why should I not be allowed to participate in an NRA event without paying dues? Why should I not be allowed insurance via the Chamber without paying dues? I want the benefits but don't always like the way they lobby governments, which is the EXACT argument made by RTW supporters.

Tyrone Shoelaces

Wed, Mar 6, 2013 : 3:23 p.m.

"Can I not pay NRA dues yet still participate in NRA events?" No, because that is not a protected right. "Can I get an AARP discount without paying dues to the AARP?" No, because that is not a protected right. "Can I get insurance through the Chamber of Commerce but not pay my annual dues?" No, because that is not a protected right. "Can I get AAA insurance but not pay my premiums (because I don't like what AAA lobbies for sometimes )" No, because that is not a protected right. "Can I join the Barton Hills Country Club but not pay my dues?" No, because that is not a protected right. Can I work somewhere and choose to not join the union and ask them not to negotiate for me (contrary to the lies being told that unions must do that)? Yes, because that it a protected right.


Wed, Mar 6, 2013 : 12:48 p.m.

The only impact will be that unions will not be able to pay democrats and perks anymore.


Wed, Mar 6, 2013 : 12:17 p.m.

It is true some "Unions" and some "Locals" are better than others. Some do help workers and some just take union dues from workers. The problem is until now workers did not have a choice now we do.


Wed, Mar 6, 2013 : 11:43 a.m.

Life is all about choices -- and having the choice to belong to a union or not should be one of them. In the current society, many of our given rights to choices are being taken away more and more with each passing day. It should be a workers choice to belong to a union or not -- especially now that they have become big government supporters instead of worker supporters.


Wed, Mar 6, 2013 : 6:16 p.m.

Again Clownfish, Repeating the line that people who don't pay the fee are "takers" is such a red herring. All along the unions have had a choice as to who they represented. They have ALWAYS chosen to have "exclusive representation" because this way they get money from both members of the union and people who are not part of the union but under the "exclusive representation" category. Now when the union's contract is up for negotiations, they have a choice to make. 1) to continue to have "exclusive representation" and run the risk of those that are not union members quit paying their fees OR 2) represent ONLY union members and continue to get their member dues. I thought you were about choice?

Tyrone Shoelaces

Wed, Mar 6, 2013 : 3:19 p.m.

Like I said: Karma.


Wed, Mar 6, 2013 : 1:26 p.m.

Yes, TYRONE, we were told that ifyou don't want to work in a dangerous workplace GO SOMEWHERE ELSE. If you don't want to work for the wage offered GO SOMEPLACE ELSE. If you don't want to work with harassment GO SOMEWHERE ELSE . We have been told that we should not be Takers, we should pay for what we get in life. Now the people that told us that got the government to step in and allow Other People to pay for benefits received by all, making a new class of Takers. I think this is called "core values", or "flip flopping".

Tyrone Shoelaces

Wed, Mar 6, 2013 : 1:20 p.m.

Sounds to me like, "Don't want to work around smoke? Don't take a job in a restaurant that allows smoking," but we were told that was invalid reasoning. Karma.


Wed, Mar 6, 2013 : 1:06 p.m.

Don't want to be in a union? Don't take a union job.

Tyrone Shoelaces

Wed, Mar 6, 2013 : 12:22 p.m.

sh1, you keep repeating this - at least twice under this article - even though it has been clearly shown to be false over the last couple months, including citations of SCOTUS precedent. And no, I won't post it here yet again; that was so January 2013. Seeing the facts wouldn't t change your mind anyway. I realize you union handlers are still telling you this lie, and they will continue to lie about it even after they've had the opportunity to remove during the next contact negotiations. But you do have the choice whether or not to perpetuate that lie.


Wed, Mar 6, 2013 : 12:13 p.m.

Except that in this case it's not about choosing not to belong to a union. Workers would still reap all the union benefits, just don't have to pay for them. That doesn't seem democratic to me.


Wed, Mar 6, 2013 : 10:22 a.m.

My, my, my! Diversity of opinions at it's finest! Go figure!

Tom Todd

Wed, Mar 6, 2013 : 3:06 a.m.

Now that the RICH have been made whole again with the stock market gains how about the rest of us.


Wed, Mar 6, 2013 : 6:18 p.m.

Tom, You are free to invest in the stock market. Go and make yourself lots of money on the stock market, or continue to watch tv. That is what's great about the U.S. You have a choice as to how you want to spend your time!


Wed, Mar 6, 2013 : 12:45 p.m.

You don't have to be rich to profit from the stock market just know when to sell and buy, give it time it'll drop and many rich will lose money. It's just a cycle.

Tom Todd

Wed, Mar 6, 2013 : 2:48 a.m.

Michissippi here we come.


Wed, Mar 6, 2013 : 6:19 p.m.

Where are your facts to back this claim up?


Wed, Mar 6, 2013 : 1:56 a.m.

Run Gretchen, run!

Laurie Burg

Tue, Mar 5, 2013 : 10:14 p.m.

So let me see if I got this straight. SOME people say "union thugs," due to their contracts, are overpaid, get too much paid time off, get better health care benefits, better retirement benefits, better representation when they have grievances and some other benefits that they don't deserve. Right? But SOME people say that union workers are taken advantage of by union bosses and don't get ANYTHING for all those dues dollars!! How can that be? Do we union members in good standing get all those great benefits for free? Or do we get them by paying our dues to be represented in contract negotiations? WHICH IS IT? It can't be both, Ann Arbor. And to those of you naive enough to believe without the union you'd get those benefits anyway ... well, you're naive. I worked in book manufacturing in Ann Arbor area part time summers and holiday breaks as a teen, and then full time for more than 20 years. We were not union, but our brothers and sisters in the Detroit area printers would have gladly accepted us into their ranks had we wanted to join them. Consequently, our wages and benefits were always pretty good. Want to see management scurry in a hurry? Post a "fake" union organizing memo in the bathroom some day!

Laurie Burg

Tue, Mar 5, 2013 : 10:34 p.m.

LOL how can you vote down logic?

Ricardo Queso

Tue, Mar 5, 2013 : 8:55 p.m.

Did they pay for this political advert?


Tue, Mar 5, 2013 : 7:23 p.m.

I'm sure it will be "news" when this group comes out totally opposed to the right to work concept. As they are including nobody who is even close to unbiased, let alone the opposition, the result is already known. There will be no news about it.


Wed, Mar 6, 2013 : 1:07 p.m.

Kind of like the vote to pass RTW?


Tue, Mar 5, 2013 : 8:41 p.m.

Kind of like a football game where only one team shows up for the game. Yet the game stats and summary explain that it was a tough game, the team played through many adversities, but in the end they somehow were able to claim victory.

Top Cat

Tue, Mar 5, 2013 : 6:28 p.m.

So the "panel" is just the Unions and their toadies?

Tyrone Shoelaces

Wed, Mar 6, 2013 : 4:02 a.m.

And an audience full of lefty cheerleaders.


Tue, Mar 5, 2013 : 7:12 p.m.

How else will they get they point across, don't want to muddy with water with differing opinions.


Tue, Mar 5, 2013 : 5:52 p.m.

It should be called the right to freeload. Now I hear Snyder is parroting this as "freedom" to work. What a bunch of ideological garbage this is!


Wed, Mar 6, 2013 : 1:04 p.m.

"Red states" receive MORE federal funding than "blue states". Republican states, on average, received $1.46 in federal spending for every tax dollar paid; Democratic states, on average, received $1.16.


Tue, Mar 5, 2013 : 9:53 p.m.

Really sayzme... Actually California, New York and Michigan are the top three states and have significantly more welfare recipients than any other state. Last time I checked they were BLUE.

Basic Bob

Tue, Mar 5, 2013 : 8:08 p.m.

To paraphrase Joe Strummer, You have the right to freeload, as long as you're not dumb enough to actually try it.


Tue, Mar 5, 2013 : 8 p.m.

@Joe...You do realize that most welfare recipients reside in RED southern states. Republicans, against freeloading before they were for it!


Tue, Mar 5, 2013 : 7:20 p.m.

I wonder if they will also discuss the right to freeload on unemployment and welfare.


Tue, Mar 5, 2013 : 5:47 p.m.

It would be nice if the speakers included actual employees who pay dues and get nothing in return.


Wed, Mar 6, 2013 : 1:17 a.m.

Vs. what they get from RTW: pay nothing and reap all the benefits of being in a union.

Laurie Burg

Tue, Mar 5, 2013 : 10:18 p.m.

Nothing in return like higher wages, better health care ... .you know, all that stuff that people complain that union thugs don't deserve you mean? That "nothing"?

Amy Biolchini

Tue, Mar 5, 2013 : 5:11 p.m.

Americans for Prosperity conducted a meeting yesterday in Jackson on the positive aspects of right-to-work, and is going on a statewide tour on the issue.


Wed, Mar 6, 2013 : 6:30 p.m.

And the likes of the Progressive Movement and George Soros have never been accused or CONVICTED of anything.


Wed, Mar 6, 2013 : 1:02 p.m.

The AFP was definitely behind the posting of fake "Eviction notices" in Detroit. They do the same thing people here whine about unions doing, buying politicians.

Tyrone Shoelaces

Wed, Mar 6, 2013 : 4 a.m.

"has been accused of" ... which is enough for some people.


Tue, Mar 5, 2013 : 5:58 p.m.

Ugghhh...Americans for the destruction of America is what their group should be called. Americans for Prosperity (AFP) is a group fronting special interests started by oil billionaire David Koch and Richard Fink (a member of the board of directors of Koch Industries). AFP has been accused of funding astroturf operations but also has been fueling the "Tea Party" efforts. AFP's messages are in sync with those of other groups funded by the Koch Family Foundations and the Kochs' other special interest groups that work against progressive or Democratic initiatives and protections for workers and the environment. Accordingly, AFP opposes labor unions, health care reform, stimulus spending, and cap-and-trade legislation, which is aimed at making industries pay for the air pollution that they create.


Tue, Mar 5, 2013 : 4:51 p.m.

Sounds like the panel will have a great two way debate on the subject. On the one side, "Right to work is bad for Michigan." On the other side, "Right to work is the worst thing to ever happen in the history of Michigan." Discuss.

Atticus F.

Tue, Mar 5, 2013 : 4:43 p.m.

Right to work in NO Way guarantees anybody the 'right to work'. It's basically a misleading sham. I would suggest that anybody who is currently unemployed, to walk into Rick Snyders office and demand a job! Demand the 'right to work' that you were promised.


Wed, Mar 6, 2013 : 6:37 p.m.

Clownfish, Maybe the majority of the general public is tired of the union's bullying tactics? Can we not agree that when contracts go out for bids that the best company gets the job? But according to the unions, all federal and state construction bids go ONLY to unions. Can you explain how that is fair? Or how about, locally, when a restaurant came to the market place, sent out quotes, and picked who they thought was best, but the unions were upset because they weren't picked and decided to bully the owners, picket them, and cause all kinds of problems. How is that fair?


Wed, Mar 6, 2013 : 1:05 p.m.

dsponini: This isn't a robber baron age. You have the opportunity to work hard and become wealthy if you want. If you choose not to, that is your choice. Choice. That is what this issue is all about. Choice. I'd like to have a choice. You appartently do not want to have a choice. You want to be told what to do. I guess freedom, liberty, rights, and other things covered by the US Constitution should be abolished to ensure the Unions have the rights. Choice.


Wed, Mar 6, 2013 : 1 p.m.

The only thing that is misleading is the name of the law- "Right to work". Does it guarantee a right to work? Is there a right to a job? Why the hatred toward unions, which do EXACTLY the same thing as any other lobby, be it Halliburton, the Kochs, the NRA, AARP, The Chamber of Commerce, etc. The Supreme Court gave unions the same green light to buy votes as corporations. I don't see this crying about graft when ENRON had laws changed to benefit them, nor do I see it whn Xe industries gets laws changed to benefit them, nor do I see it when the owners of a charter school get laws changed to suit them, or when Boeing gives millions to congress to get what they want. Why do so many people have a problem with groups that operate by democratic principles, if you don't like what your union is doing you can run for office or vote out the leadership. Or, now, you can freeload off of your fellow union members while crying about "takers".


Tue, Mar 5, 2013 : 9:57 p.m.

yes dsponini- Just like George Soros, Al ( made $500 mil. from Al-Jazerra oil money) Gore, Fred Eychaner and Jeff Katzenberg


Tue, Mar 5, 2013 : 8:42 p.m.

Yes....grye, I'm sure we will all love living in the robber baron age that is sure to come (soon) as inequality in this country gets greater and greater...David & Charles Koch are banking on it!


Tue, Mar 5, 2013 : 8:35 p.m.

Typical misleading statement from you, Atticus. There is not guarantee you will get a job, union or not. But in your perfect little world, the unions have more rights than any individual. Thus the unions are more important than the citizens of this country. I guess you take the begining of the Constititution literally "... in order to form a more perfect Union..." . It's all about the rights of the Unions and not about the rights of any individual to have to or not have to join a union.


Tue, Mar 5, 2013 : 4:20 p.m.

I'm guessing, and maybe going out on a limb here; they are only presenting one side to this 'discussion' Union are running the democratic party. Do these reps realize only 20% of their constituents belong to unions? But I guess when your being paid by the union that is who they will represent

Dog Guy

Tue, Mar 5, 2013 : 4:19 p.m.

I predict that this right-to-work discussion will be a completely harmonious assembly, Schoenberg style.


Tue, Mar 5, 2013 : 4:02 p.m.

Are they really looking out for the worker or just the Unions who fund their political coffers?

Stephen Landes

Wed, Mar 6, 2013 : 1:03 a.m.

Follow the money and you will find the truth. This is about laundering public money through public employee unions back to the politicians who approve the money to begin with. As far as Progressives are concerned "choice" does not apply to workers' right to NOT be forced to join a union.