The Midwest has lately been at the center of battles between unions and the politicians contesting them, and the union side hasn't been doing so well. Michigan is the latest rust-belt state to lob a legislative grenade into union ranks, the state governor signing two right-to-work bills that prohibit mandatory union dues in the state's workplaces.

Some context: This isn't like Indiana or Wisconsin, two other nearby states that have recently waged government vs. union battles (unions lost in both states), Michigan is a marquee union haven. It is the birthplace of the United Auto Workers, the richest union in the nation, and has ties to the International Brotherhood of Teamsters that still make front page news. It has the fifth-highest union membership of any state, but it has the greatest number of union members by percentage of the population. And as for that fifth-placed membership placing, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2011 the states ahead of Michigan were New York, Alaska, Hawaii, and Washington.

Reaction from union representatives and supporters has, naturally, been damning. More than 12,000 people from Michigan and surrounding states marched outside the state Capitol, the Teamsters president called the bill "shameful" and "divisive," and 260 teachers – members of another powerful union – called in sick on the say of the vote.

Reaction from outside the unions has been mixed: The hope is that the legislation will give Michigan a better chance to compete for corporate dollars now that the specter of compulsory unionization has been removed. But it doesn't change existing union contracts – the current UAW labor agreement with the Big Three expires in 2015 – and it doesn't stop attempts to unionize. Michigan also has other issues like its tax on manufacturing equipment that make it an expensive place to do business. No one is expecting cash to suddenly be funneled back into Michigan in ways it hasn't been for decades, and it will take a few years to gauge the results. The narrative, rather, seems to be more about the future of unions and the momentum turning even more forcefully against them, as opposed to a sudden revival of Michigan's fortunes because of the legislation.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 126 Comments
      NY EVO X MR GUY
      • 2 Years Ago
      There are companies that are great employers that aren't unionized. The profit numbers are inflated to attract investors. This is also before costs, salary, benefits, taxes, etc. So unions should take cuts like everyday people make sacrifices. Unions take your dues and what do you think they do with them? Union workers are employing shop stewards and lacing peoples pocket for representation that individuals could easily obtain on their own. I am not antiunion. But, I am against what unions now stand for. Self-interest.
      KJSCHMIDTHOUSE
      • 4 Months Ago

      we need unlons

      Ducman69
      • 2 Years Ago
      Unions now exist to: 1) Serve the leadership 2) Intimidate members 3) Reward seniority over work-ethic and capabilities 4) Punish hard work (since it makes others "look bad") 5) Drive up wages/benefits beyond fair market value 6) Protect workers from disciplinary action 7) Destroy work ethic, since raises/salary aren't based on individual worth or contribution to the company
        Ducman69
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Ducman69
        Oh and the icing on the cake, who do unions hurt, most? Fellow non-unionized American citizens in their community, who become poorer since: 1) They don't have the right to compete equally for those union jobs (union entry is often who-knows-who for desired positions) 2) They subsidize the unions by paying artificially high prices for goods the unions create since the costs are passed along to the consumer 3) The local economy suffers as employers naturally send what work they can elsewhere Government employees in particular need to be banned from unionization, starting with the teachers.
          Kurt
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Ducman69
          Exactly, unions should only exist to assist in the appropriation of company surplus so less of the profits go to boardmembers and upper level management and more to reinvestment into the company and the larger group of people who work for it. That's what companies did before the 1970's and it did wonders for the middle class and economy as a whole.
        Rob J
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Ducman69
        Yeah. That's 100% the only stuff they do. They don't, -Provide benefits to workers -Provide public support in the area -Protect workers from wrongful dismissal -Ensure safe work environments etc. All the anti-union BS so many people spew is disgusting. Obviously there are many corrupt or ineffective unions across the world, but they exist for a reason - to protect the worker. The US before unions was an absolute mess. Government regulation is never going to be enough to protect workers rights as even as inefficient as they can be, that is exactly what most unions do.
          Ducman69
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Rob J
          Weird how those of us NOT in unions seem to be doing great, including industries that in no shape or form have ever been unionized in North America.
        Jerry
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Ducman69
        Ducman, it you are talking about the UAW, I agree. However, it is pretty ignorant and unfair to generalize all unions this way. Do you think that nurses, fire fighters, and police fall into your list? If you do, you need to change the channel...
      MAX
      • 2 Years Ago
      America is increasingly too stupid to deserve a middle class. Fox News has turned 20% of the population into virtual zombies. It's not what you don't know that makes one a fool, it's what you know that ain't so that makes one a fool.
        Bootkicker
        • 2 Years Ago
        @MAX
        How come MSNBC and the networks haven't shown the Union Violence. and threats? Might was well as call them "State Run Media".
          london1121
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Bootkicker
          Idiot, that's factually incorrect. They showed the clip of the fight between union members and the Faux News contributors about 20 times in two days. Chris Matthews tore the union guy apart for that stunt, saying that the union guys have lots of explaining to do for showing exactly where their negative image/sterotype comes from. If I can find the link for the video, I'd post it.
        Jason Krumvieda
        • 2 Years Ago
        @MAX
        Cite references please about fox. I have read comments like that many times or ones like it but the source isn't given. That is like me saying that 12% of MSNBC viewers are pedophiles. I don't have a source but somebody out there will start to believe it.
          Jason Krumvieda
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Jason Krumvieda
          Thanks to the links to Progressive websites or some blogger dudes thoughts. I was looking for the 20% that you mentioned. Jon Stewart and Colbert are on a network called "Comedy Central" and should be treated as such.
        Chris
        • 2 Years Ago
        @MAX
        Blaming all of this on Fox News would be like blaming MSNBC for Obamacare. Being from Michigan, I am aware of all of the problems the state has had, and how the unions have effected the state's economy, and contributed to its declining relevance over the last several decades.
      whofan
      • 2 Years Ago
      This is what we deserve for voting in a Republican governer. When people can no longer afford to buy anything other than the bare essentials we will see.
        Chris
        • 2 Years Ago
        @whofan
        What have the Democrats done for Michigan lately? Detroit hasn't had a Republican mayor since the 60s, and look where they are today. Why is it you have so much faith in the Democratic party? Michigan has been a Democratic state for as long as I can remember, and has enjoyed a steady decline since the middle part of the 20th century.
      Will
      • 2 Years Ago
      Being forced to join an organization that you do not wish to be a part of, docks your pay, and may or may not represent your best interests should never have been legal. If people want to join unions let them, if people want to work and represent themselves in their wage and benefit negotiations then let them. The unions are only outraged because they know a large portion of the workforce will opt not to be a part of these unions and it will undermine the unions power.
      Sir Duke
      • 2 Years Ago
      The unions built the middle class. The labor movement has lost its way, and is in desperate of reform. Destroying the labor movement will have disastrous consequences for the American worker going forward, oh wait, it already has. The economic collapse, flatlined wages all are tied to a weakened labor movement. NY EVO mentioned something about "Not being reasonable in a sluggish economy and not taking pay-cuts". While I understand his comment, I entirely disagree with his viewpoint. Why should workers take a pay-cut when the company is turning the most profit in its history? I do agree that workers should be fired for misconduct, and this is where I part ways with the unions. Misconduct by police officers, teachers or drinking on the job auto workers should be FIRED on the spot once proven. Let's suppose the oligarchs are successful in getting rid of all unions (this will never happen), what's to stop them from behaving badly as employers? The unions are there to keep the large corporations from taking advantage of the little guy. The unions however are sometimes their own worst enemy. Take the Chrysler workers drinking on the job for example, the union's first action should have been to strip those workers of their union membership and expose them to the will of the corporation. Let it be up to the corporation on what disciplinary action they chose. BTW: The auto workers at non-union plants should not forget thank their unionized counterparts for their salaries.
        Dr. Claw
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Sir Duke
        A very good comment, and of course it is majority downvoted...
      artandcolour2010
      • 2 Years Ago
      No it won't. Unions built the middle class in this country. We have 40 hour 5-day work weeks because of them. We have paid vacations for full time employees because of them. We have safe work environments because of them. We have child labor laws because of them. Unions are an extremely important part of our entire country. And no, I've never been part of one. I can't remember anyone in my family ever belonging to one. Anyone that doesn't understand the roles unions have played in our great country doesn't understand squat. I hope all of you union bashers enjoy your lower standard of living coming in the next few years. Every single state that has enacted right-to-work laws has lowered their standards of living and lowered the average wages for their populace.
        Phil
        • 2 Years Ago
        @artandcolour2010
        "art and colour" WASN'T the name of Harley Earl's styling studio. It was "Art and Color." YOU'RE BUSTED. The insertion of a "u" in the word "color" identifies you as [most likely] a Brit, or Canadian. You're not a U.S. citizen and therefore, as stated earlier, don't have a dog in this hunt. And as for a source of the information, no it didn't come from Fox. It came from the Bureau of Labor and Statistics. That source stated that private-sector employee compensation in right-to-work states has grown by an inflation-adjusted 12.0% between 2001-2011. Non right-to-work states, over that same period, have seen an increase of only 0.6%. Lie all you want artandcolour2010, but THE TRUTH WILL WIN OUT.
          RJC
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Phil
          While rare in US English usage, it is totally acceptable to spell it 'colour'. Ask an English teacher.
          thequebecerinfrance
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Phil
          Canadian don't spell color with a u you moron.
          Lx495
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Phil
          thequebecerinfrance- Hardly much anymore, perhaps. But yes some (many?) still do. If they no longer then it's because of the effect of US media. Does that qualify as irony? Lars
        Phil
        • 2 Years Ago
        @artandcolour2010
        Well, artancolour2010, given the way you spell your name, you obviously aren't from this country. And while you say you don't have a dog in this hunt, I seriously doubt the veracity of your statement that you've never belonged to a union, nor anyone in your family. Your last sentence is completely UNTRUE. It's completely false and with very little effort one can find the truth by a simple internet search.
          artandcolour2010
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Phil
          and once again for the record, I can't think of a single person in my family that ever belonged to a union and my family has lived in Connecticut since the early 1700s. I don't come online to lie. So take your "veracity" and shove it up your ass.
          artandcolour2010
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Phil
          "artandcolour" was the name of Harley Earl's first GM styling studio, so I can only assume you know nothing about cars, right? My last statement is COMPLETELY true You just can't look at any Fox web site. Check a real source.
        Scr
        • 2 Years Ago
        @artandcolour2010
        "We have 40 hour 5-day work weeks because of them. We have paid vacations for full time employees because of them. We have safe work environments because of them." This is a lie that has been spread by the Unions for decades. Henry Ford is personally responsible for the 40 hour work week, safer working conditions with his assembly line, a 5 day work week, paid vactation, and a wage so his employees could buy his product. NOT THE UNION. Companies also used to have FREE medical care for their employees and families from company doctors at public hospitals paid for by the company. Companies also used to finace the purchase of houses for their employees who could not otherwise afford to borrow money for thier own home. Were the CEOs rich? you bet, but they spread their wealth around more than you think they did. This was done to attract the best workers to his plant and other industries had to play catch-up in order to compete. If the worker was good to the company, the company was good to the worker. This fundamentally changed with the unionization of factory work, where it became an "us against them" mentality and nothing was ever enough. This was not from the worker's mouths, this was from the Union bosses who would play on their workers to keep relevance and their own CEO sized salary. Let us not forget the strong union ties to organized crime (mafia), the communist party, and the corruption of the democratic party. Need more evidence? Look at our inner city schools and the unfortunate uneducated kids that end up as problems in society from crime to unemployment and you will see at the heart of it, the all-powerful teacher's union.
        Bootkicker
        • 2 Years Ago
        @artandcolour2010
        I hope you union supporters enjoy jobs leaving and companies shutting down. Hostess Cupcake anyone?
        Chris
        • 2 Years Ago
        @artandcolour2010
        Lower standard of living? Most of Detroit looks like a 3rd world country, unfortunately. How do you explain that? Flint? Pretty much the same story!! It's "mini-Detroit". Unions contributed a lot to the development of this country, and I won't argue against that. They came along before we had any labor laws, workers comp, OSHA, etc., so there was a time when they were necessary. Now, the UAW has become the very thing it was founded to protect against, a corrupt and greedy corporation that only cares about its own viability. Just because something worked a century ago, does not mean it is going to work today. Times change.
      caddy-v
      • 2 Years Ago
      The Public sector unions in my home state of Illinois have demanded contracts and won putting the state at well over $100 billion in debt with unfunded pension liabilities. Our state income taxes have gone up 67% to pay for that. Our state and county sales taxes have nearly doubled and real estate taxes are among the highest in the country all to help pay for state, county and local seiu employees. I passed a state construction site where they were pouring concrete around a drain sewer on the side of the road. At most, they used a half a yard of concrete on a 2 foot by 5 foot area. Eleven state employees with shovels, three with finishing tools, nine trucks on the job with one man sitting in the truck. Somebody please justify this. Another great example of how the unions have screwed the pooch: Hostess twinkies. 18,000 mostly union workers now on the government dole thanks to the Bakers union.
        • 2 Years Ago
        @caddy-v
        [blocked]
      MAX
      • 2 Years Ago
      Yeah, let's do everything we can to make the rich richer so they can have bigger yachts, bigger mansions with car elevators, more dancing horses, more money to subvert democracy in elections, more money to bet on Wall Street synthetic derivatives, buy more decline of America. If this was such a popular deal, why did the Republicans rush it through a lame duck session after they got their butts kicked in the last election?
        Jason Krumvieda
        • 2 Years Ago
        @MAX
        So you think that it is OK for a republican union worker that believes in fiscal responsibility, gun ownership, is Pro-life, capitol punishment, and still you would rather give 91% of your money paid into the union to go to democratic candidates? So pro-choice is OK when when it is an unborn child but not OK when it is your money. You insist that they must join the union and must give the money to the union so they can give it to who they see fit to receive it. That doesn't sound like much freedom to me.
          MAX
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Jason Krumvieda
          But it's ok to own stock in a company that gives money to ALEC without my consent as a shareholder? The solution to this which I'm sure unions would go along with is to take the money out out of politics. Money is not speech.
        edward.stallings
        • 2 Years Ago
        @MAX
        The "rich", as you call them,in the case of public sector unions are the taxpayer. Public sector unions are nothing but a money machine for the democrats. Most of the dues go to electing democrats. The democrat, once elected gives the union whatever it wants and the taxpayer (the real employer) is never represented (and gets screwed). Talk about subverting democracy.... Unfortunately we have about half of the people in this country who will vote for someone to take taxpayer money and give it to them. We only have about 50% taxpayers and many of them have jobs financed by a subset of their group. Kinda explains the last election.... I'm sure you don't follow the logic.
        edward.stallings
        • 2 Years Ago
        @MAX
        Lets see - from Wikipedia on ALEC: the mission of the American Legislative Exchange Council to advance Jeffersonian principles of free markets, limited government, federalism, and individual liberty... I would say a company that puts money in that is protecting you as a stockholder while at the same time attempting to preserve what made this country great.
          rmayday1
          • 2 Years Ago
          @edward.stallings
          You are such a Koch ******* tool!
          Dr. Claw
          • 2 Years Ago
          @edward.stallings
          *suggestive motion with right hand* Too bad ALEC is trying to take away individual liberties and free markets...
        CH
        • 2 Years Ago
        @MAX
        No one compels you to own a stock. Your consent is your continued ownership of that stock. If you don't consent, sell the stock! If I work in a closed shop, I AM compelled to give that union my money if I want to retain my job. See the difference?
      Avinash Machado
      • 2 Years Ago
      Time for the UAW to be in the history books.
        Sir Duke
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Avinash Machado
        That is a very short-sighted, narrow-minded view of a rather complex problem. You sir would not want to live in an America without the labor movement. It would be like returning to the days of indentured servitude. Not all employers are bad, but one bad apple...... In the last 10 - 12 years, every bad practice, soon became a trend, then a standard. The corporations and oligarchs are just one election cycle away from reversing laws that you now take for granted. Yes unions can be bad, but so are corporations.
          edward.stallings
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Sir Duke
          Public sector unions are nothing but a money machine for the democrats. Most of the dues go to electing democrats. The democrat, once elected gives the union whatever it wants and the taxpayer (the real employer) is never represented (and gets screwed). Bad corporations do not profit from forcing people to pay higher taxes, and modern labor laws end workplace regulations make unions relics of the past. Now they are nothing but parasites.
      caddy-v
      • 2 Years Ago
      Unions were a very important part of the American history, that is, when the unions were about making working conditions and pay better for the members. Todays unions are all about the union officials and their own self interests. Most union officials are paid well into the six digit figure with paid company cars and FULL benefits for life, unlike their constituants. Federal labor laws now make unions about as useless as nipples on a man.
        oRenj9
        • 2 Years Ago
        @caddy-v
        Most managers are paid six figures with nice company-paid benefits like cars and phones. It sounds like union officials are getting paid commensurate with their job titles and experience. Mid-level and above management positions are very much an exclusive Good Ol' Boys club at established companies. And unions are just like any other business.
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