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Michigan Legislators vote to repeal Right to Work, but the Far Right in Michigan has other plans that MLive doesn’t tell us about

March 20, 2023

On Tuesday, March 14th, MLive posted a story entitled, Michigan’s ‘right to work’ is at death’s door. What will its legacy be?

The MLive article, which is much longer than post articles, cites labor union representatives who support the repeal of Right to Work, plus the obligatory pro-Right to Work position from a few politicians and a spokesperson for the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, which is a Far Right Think Tank.

In addition, there were three university professors cited in the article, all of which claimed that Right to Work was good for workers, along with an “economist” with The W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research, who leaned toward supporting Right to Work, thus MLive provided more pro-Right to Work voices than labor voices.

More importantly, there is no real discussion about the legacy of Right to Work in the article, as was stated in the headline. There was some data and a few graphics presented, but no real analysis of what impact the Right to Work Law has had on Michigan between the time it was adopted in December of 2012 through the present.

The MLive article also had three accompanying photos with the article, two of which showed a sea of people outside the capital holding signs and banners in support of unions. The third photo showed State Police officers standing in front of the State House chambers, preventing people who were attempting to go in and possibly disrupt. Unfortunately, the mLive article doesn’t explore the tactical and strategic actions of organized labor that day in December of 2012, especially since most of the 10,000 who came to protest Right to Work remained outside with only a small contingent of 300 choosing to go inside with the intent of shutting the government down. I know, as I was a participant inside that tried to shut things down, something I wrote about on December 11, 2012. You can also watch the short video I shot on the occupation of the Capitol building in Lansing. 

What is omitted from the MLive article

One thing that is not explored in the MLive article, are the plans that the pro-Right to Work forces are organizing around in response to the current repeal of Right to Work. 

According to an article from the Center for Media & Democracy, posted on March 10, the Mackinac Center for Public Policy (which was cited in the MLive article): 

In this heated context, the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, a right-wing think tank that was instrumental in getting the anti-union legislation passed, announced the creation of a new spin-off last month that is legally able to raise and spend unlimited amounts of dark money to influence legislation and ballot measures. 

Known as the Mackinac Center Action, the new advocacy group is a 501(c)(4) nonprofit, which means that it will not have to adhere to the lobbying limits and ban on electoral activity that apply to its 501(c)(3) parent organization. And, unlike super PACs, Mackinac Action will not be required to disclose who funds its operations.

Fueled by Koch, the Bradley Foundation, and other right-wing billionaires and foundations, the Mackinac Center is a powerful force in Michigan that has long led the charge to break the back of organized labor in the state. 

Now, we don’t know for sure of this new PAC from the Mackinac Center will be raising money for pro-Right to Work candidates to re-take the State Legislature in 2024, if they will being organizing a Right to Work ballot initiative, or both. Whatever this PAC is going to do, this is the real legacy of 10 years of Right to Work, a legacy that all people who believe in the power of organized labor should be paying attention to. 

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