By Stacy M. Swimp
Michigan Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville, R-Monroe has, in a recent report, come out in favor of a proposed bill under which teachers would not be required to form a union as a condition of employment. It is called “Freedom to Teach”
Senator Richardville’s” Freedom to Teach” support seems to be an example of retaliation against the Michigan Education Association (MEA) for their involvement in recall efforts against nearly two dozen Republican legislators, including Michigan Governor Rick Synder.
While “Freedom to Teach” legislation does take a courageous and bold step in seeking to liberate Michigan teachers from the oppression of compulsory unionization, it does not go far enough to ensure labor freedom for all Michigan workers.
Many workers, who are not teachers, are equally fearful of voicing their opposition to the union policy of compulsory union membership. These workers also need Richardville’s support.
I applaud the thought of our teachers finally gaining their freedom from union oppression. However, I do question legislation which would suggest that freedom is only good for a select group of our workers.
Freedom to choose whether to join or financially support a union is just as important for our workers as the freedom of a union to make their case. The proof in the power of that freedom is so vividly illustrated in the prosperity enjoyed by citizens around the country that live in states that guarantee those freedoms for their workers.
Per 29 USC 402: A Labor organization means “any organization engaged in an industry affecting commerce and includes any organization of any kind, any agency, or employee representation committee, group, association, or plan so engaged in which employees participate and which exists for the purpose, in whole or in part, of dealing with employers concerning grievances, labor disputes, wages, rates of pay, hours, or other terms or conditions of employment, and any conference, general committee, joint or system board, or joint council so engaged which is subordinate to a national or international labor organization, other than a State or local central body.”
A true “Labor Freedom” Bill would ensure the following for all citizens:
No person shall be required, as a condition of employment or continuation of employment, to:
- Resign or refrain from voluntary membership in, voluntary affiliation with, or voluntary financial support of a labor organization;
- Become or remain a member of a labor organization;
- Pay any dues, fees, assessments, or other charges of any kind or amount to a labor organization;
- Pay to any charity or other third party, in lieu of such payments, any amount equivalent to or pro rata portion of dues, fees, assessments, or other charges regularly required of members of a labor organization; or
- Be recommended, approved, referred, or cleared by or through a labor organization.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics Data recently reported that, from April 2001 to April 2011, 15 of the 22 labor freedom states were among the top 25 states in job growth. North Dakota had the largest increase during that time span, 19.5 percent. The four states with the greatest decrease were all non-labor freedom states: Michigan, Ohio, Illinois and Indiana.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics Data also found that the top ten states with the highest tax burden on individual taxpayers are all forced union states. Additionally, citizens of the 28 forced-unionism states suffer more than twice as many welfare cases per capita as the 22 Labor Freedom states. The federal government studies that generated these alarming facts and data are decisive and indisputable.
The above stated realities are obvious. Moreover, the pain and financial devastation is all around us. Hence, I respectfully urge Senator Richard Randyville to reconsider his support of “Freedom to Teach” and embrace the thoughts and desires of all the citizens of this great State by endorsing Labor Freedom for all workers.
“To compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves is sinful and tyrannical”- Thomas Jefferson
In an effort to help Mr. Richardville find his way back into the light of fairness and freedom for all Michigan workers, I urge everyone to call or write your state Senators and inform them that we too, deserve and long for the right to determine if union membership is something we want for ourselves.
By the Republican Party receiving a majority in both chambers in Lansing, they should honor the mandate from voters and immediately pass Freedom to Work legislation for Governor Snyder’s approval.
This heroic act of leadership will immediately place a giant Welcome Mat on Michigan’s doorstep for all of the world’s employers to consider and use once again. The last 3 states that did this led the nation in economic development the following year, and that’s just what the doctor ordered for the financially-besieged people of Michigan as well.