Michigan Right-to-Work Law Viewed as Domino

Other Rust Belt states could follow Michigan's lead.

Michigan’s swift conversion to a right-to-work state has galvanized advocates of the law, who vow to seek similar legislation nationwide under the battle cry: “If it can happen in Michigan, it can happen anywhere.”

The next logical targets are Michigan’s rust-belt neighbors that also have Republican governors and legislatures -- Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. The right-to-work forces are on the move even if lawmakers in those states express reluctance, as Michigan Governor Rick Snyder once did.

Lifeline Threatened

Big Labor is left demoralized and defensive, its life’s blood -- union dues -- threatened. McAlinden estimates 20 percent of workers will opt out of paying dues, especially new hires at auto companies making $16 an hour, half what senior workers make in the two-tier wage system the UAW accepted to help the industry survive. That comes amid declining membership; UAW’s ranks stood at 380,719 last year, according to a U.S. Labor Department March filing, down from a peak of 1.5 million members in 1979

Ohio, Wisconsin

Earlier labor battles in Wisconsin and Ohio inflamed Democrats and helped keep those states in President Barack Obama’s column in last month’s election, said Mike Podhorzer, political director for the AFL-CIO, a federation of labor organizations that includes 12 million workers.

The Neighborhood

“There is public support for the idea, but Kasich has been chastised once by the voters of Ohio and it’s not clear he’d want to try again,” said Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. “The question is, will Ohio think it’s at a disadvantage if the whole neighborhood goes right-to-work.”

Pennsylvania Punt

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett, a first-term Republican, is willing to sign right-to-work legislation -- he just doesn’t expect his partisan allies who control the legislature to send one to his desk.

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