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Michigan Takes a U-Turn Back to the Rust Belt

Posted on Tuesday, February 27, 2024
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by Outside Contributor
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28 Comments
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No state in modern times has transitioned from a worker freedom state to one that forces workers to join a union and pay dues to labor bosses. All the momentum across the country in the last two decades has been in the opposite direction: allowing workers the right to choose a union — or not.

That’s why what happened last week in Lansing, Michigan, is such a tragic setback for workers’ rights and for the economic competitiveness of the state where Henry Ford rolled off the assembly lines the iconic Model T some 100 years ago.

Thanks to a corrupt deal between the labor bosses, the Democratic state legislature and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, Michigan will no longer be a right-to-work state.

Is Whitmer intentionally TRYING to lose jobs in Michigan? Amazing how short the memories are in Lansing. Starting in the 1970s, Motown, which for decades had been the very symbol of America’s industrial might, collapsed into the symbol of the American “Rust Belt.” Closed-down factories turned Flint and Dearborn into virtual ghost towns.

From the 1970s to the early 2000s, Detroit crumbled into poverty. Whole neighborhoods were bulldozed, drug dealers were seemingly at every street corner, and homes were selling for less than $10,000 as the jobs disappeared and so did the families.

It wasn’t that auto jobs left the country — though some did. The real story was that the factories relocated out of the forced-union states and the moving vans delivered the jobs to South Carolina, Alabama, Texas and Tennessee. Why? Because these were states with pro-business policies that didn’t cede control over to corrupt union brass.

Over the last three decades, right-to-work states created twice the number of jobs as forced-union states. According to Epoch Times reporter Kevin Stocklin, commenting on a 2022 Bureau of Labor Statistics report: During the COVID-19 pandemic, “Right-to-work (RTW) states added 1.3 million jobs since the start of the pandemic, while non-RTW states lost 1.1 million jobs.”

That’s one of many reasons why the booming South has taken over first place in terms of industrial production from the rusting Midwest and Northeast.

About a decade ago, Michigan realized it had to change or die. Michigan joined 25 other states and became a right-to-work state. Tens of thousands of workers said goodbye to the unions. Michigan made a comeback and a mini-renaissance followed. It was like the Michigan Wolverines winning the college football national championship.

But throughout this period, the unions were unrelenting in their opposition. They held protests in front of the capital, chanting, “Hey, hey, ho, ho, right to work has got to go!” They spent tens of millions of dollars to elect Democrats to get the law overturned.

Whitmer and her cronies also resorted to a false advertising campaign that this was all about “a restoration of workers’ rights.” Just the opposite. Forced unionization degrades workers’ rights because from now on in Michigan, you must  join the union, and you must pay dues to the corrupt union bosses. The United Auto Workers union has been plagued with financial fraud and massive pay packages to the union leaders. That doesn’t trickle down to the rank-and-file workers whose paychecks are pilfered to pay for this largesse.

Right-to-work states do not prohibit unions. There are union facilities throughout the South. Every worker chooses for themselves whether to join or not. Many workers — especially the hardest-working and most productive ones — would rather negotiate their own salaries, which in many cases are HIGHER than the rigid union pay scale.

The unions have never answered a simple question: If the union label is so beneficial to workers, how come you need to force them to join?

Many businesses won’t even consider locating a new factory or blue-collar operation in a forced-union state. The auto jobs in America will now accelerate their migration to the Southern states.

Gretchen Whitmer is turning back the clock. Not to the glory days of Michigan, but more probably to the era of the Rust Belt, with closed factory doors and longer unemployment lines. So much for “Hail to the Victors.”

Stephen Moore is chief economist at FreedomWorks and a senior fellow at the Heritage Foundation. His latest book is “Govzilla: How the Relentless Growth of Government Is Devouring Our Economy.”

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The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of AMAC or AMAC Action.

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Lieutenant Beale
Lieutenant Beale
1 month ago

I stopped reading at the mention of Governor Gretchen Whitmer.
It seems everything the Democrats touch turns to “rust” (trying to be polite here)
Michigan needs to get rid of Whitmer ASAP.

Nick
Nick
1 month ago

You can kiss goodbye to Michigan. If unions are such a great deal people would be clamoring to sign up. When you have to force people to do it you know it’s a bad deal. It Is nothing but a back door money laundering scheme for the Democrat Party.

Letts Brandon
Letts Brandon
1 month ago

The people of Michigan think unions and democrats are their friends. The smart ones are leaving and all that’s left is the Muslims and the 3 witches. As the weather warms they will start bringing in the illegals to fill the mail in ballots for the November election.

Letts Brandon
Letts Brandon
1 month ago

But the people of Michigan think unions and democrats are their friends. Apparently they are un-educatable. As the smart ones leave the state it only leaves the meth-addicts and the 3 witches.

Jimmy Page
Jimmy Page
1 month ago

I live in Michigan, but from Ohio (working behind enemy lines) nothing this state does doesn’t make me scratch my head. Just like California, parts are very republican. Its the eastern part of the state that don’t get it. MAGA2024!

Mike
Mike
1 month ago

It’s so sad, I love the state, grew up there. Love the outdoors, the woods, the lakes, and the beauty. I left 15 years to go sailing and now am looking for place to slow down. I so wish I could see some hope for the future of the place, so I could return, so sad.

Theresa Coughlin
Theresa Coughlin
1 month ago

And the unions will never answer that simple question either.

Jerry Todd
Jerry Todd
1 month ago

Solidarity means nothing without the personal responsibility of Subsidiarity. Union bosses never get it.

Jeri
Jeri
1 month ago

Don’t be so sure that Michigan is changing. The Arabs of Michigan have something in mind, but at this point in time what is very unclear. Keep an eye on them.

Robert Zuccaro
Robert Zuccaro
1 month ago

The press + social media + worker and teacher unions = the Unholy Democrat Trinity.

Pat R
Pat R
1 month ago

I’ve always thought unions were the modernized mafia. Still seems that’s the way it is and the Dems are paid off by unions to do their bidding.

Lauramerrone
Lauramerrone
1 month ago

“Stupid is as stupid does.”

Rob citizenship
Rob citizenship
1 month ago

The idea, the thought , of people being forced to join a union is about as wrong as it gets. This matter is at the foundation of what makes for a society that cares about how people look at their neighborhoods , how they regard their responsibilities, and how they feel about political freedom , their rights and sense of purpose . This is all about respect and the value attached to truth. Great article Stephen Moore , defending truth is admirable and honorable. Well done !

John Shipway
John Shipway
1 month ago

“Right to work state” status…….ain’t gonna cut it. We have de industrialized the country and are too broke to somehow rebuild our once large industrial infrastructure. Its gone, it is not coming back.
I still recall the government singing the praises of America letting its industry go offshore to foreign lands hailing the fact that America was now going to become a service economy. No more factory floor, no more REAL work. Let the smelly foreigners take care of that while we reap the benefits.
Like everything the government does that plan turned to shit and now we get to live out the rest of our years slowly declining as a nation with NO hope for our heirs

anna hubert
anna hubert
1 month ago

If there is a one female governor, state prosecutor or a mayor of the city that is competent to do the job I’d like to know her name

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