NEW YORK — Miles Rapoport, President of national policy organization Demos, released the following statement in response to Michigan’s State House and Senate suddenly passing bills Thursday to defund unions and undermine the ability of working people to organize for better pay and benefits:
“What happened in Lansing on Thursday was part of a shameful trend of ‘Right to Work For Less’ laws that, if actually enacted, nearly guarantees hardworking Michiganders will see their opportunity to secure a middle class life shrink. The clandestine nature of Governor Rick Snyder’s announcement of the votes –- and the way workers showed up to protest within hours -- are testament to the fact that this law is bad for Michigan’s workers and economy.
This effort in Michigan is an example of the go-it-alone economic mentality that some have adopted over the last forty years.
“The middle class was America’s single greatest invention, and it was no accident. It was the result of smart public policy, and it required business, government and labor to contribute. This effort in Michigan, however, is an example of the go-it-alone economic mentality that some have adopted over the last forty years, creating record inequality and stalling the engine of mobility for future generations.
“Michigan’s economy, workers, and unions have long been deeply interconnected, sharing great periods of success and prosperity. But in recent decades, young workers in Michigan saw their median wages fall 55 percent to levels below the national median, and the disappearance of union manufacturing jobs that offered good wages and benefits is a key factor. If enacted, Thursday’s anti-union effort promises to push down those wages further. According to the Economic Policy Institute, workers in states with these laws make as much as $1,500 less each year than in states that protect unions. Americans believe that hard work should be rewarded, and these bills would mean many workers will not be able to make ends meet for their families.
Workers and voters in Michigan know what it takes to create a strong middle class – and know unions play an essential role.
“While Thursday’s votes show how certain politicians and businesses have abandoned their commitment to ensuring widespread gains and prosperity across the economy, workers and voters in Michigan know what it takes to create a strong middle class – and know unions play an essential role. Though Governor Snyder has said he supports these votes, we urge him to reconsider, protect hardworking Michiganders, and veto the final bill.”
For more information, read Demos’ brief “Under Attack: Michigan’s Middle Class and the Jobs Crisis,” or Demos’ study “Building Michigan’s Future Middle Class: Addressing the Economic Challenges Facing Young Adults." These publications are part of Demos’ ongoing work to rebuild pathways to the middle class so that it is diverse, strong and expanding.