This afternoon the Michigan House of Representatives passed two separate "right-to-work" measures covering workers in the private and public sectors, setting the stage for final passage sometime next week.
A fun game for Michigan residents who may be confused by the phrase "right-to-work":
1. If you're unemployed or working part-time, approach Governor Rick Snyder and ask for a job. Claim you're just exercising the right to work. Better yet, walk in to any office you fancy. Do your research. Pick one that has good coffee, not one with a stupid Flavia machine.
2. If anyone calls security, tell them the legislature passed a right-to-work law and you're only following the rules.
3. If that strategy somehow fails, it may be because right-to-work bills are the Grape-Nuts of public policy: they contain neither rights nor work.
Instead, right-to-work laws forbid employers and employees from agreeing to contracts that mandate union membership or the payment of union dues. Here's Gov. Snyder's pro-everything take:
Snyder told NBC News' Andrea Mitchell that he was "pro-collective bargaining," but he said right-to-work laws denied workers freedom of choice.
"I think it's a good thing," he said of the legislation. "I think it's pro-worker."
Certainly, if it's a "pro-worker" bill, its benefits should extend to the most valorized state employees of all, our heroic firefighters and police officers, right?
As the capital prepares for thousands of demonstrators Tuesday on the right-to-work bills in the Legislature, their rallies and demonstrations will fall under the watch of union members of one profession that is being exempted from the legislation.
Gov. Rick Snyder and Republican legislative leaders say they've exempted 6,000 police and 5,000 firefighter union members from having a choice whether to financially support their union because of special collective bargaining rights in state law and the constitution.
In other words, Michigan's Republican leadership refuses to give their state's most Republican-friendly union members the gift of "pro-worker" legislation they've offered to everyone else.
There's probably some alternate universe where this makes sense. And it's probably an alternate universe where Grape-Nuts make sense, too.
Photo by Bill Pugliano/Getty Images News/Getty Images
Tags: Michigan, Rick Snyder, State Legislature, Unions