Michigan Vote to become Right to Work show a Political Realignment in the Rust Belt?

Posted by PITHOCRATES - December 16th, 2012

Week in Review

First Wisconsin and Indiana and now Michigan.  Something is happening in the Rust Belt states.  These union strongholds appear to be going through a midlife crisis.  The marriage between the unions and the people appears to be not as strong as it once was.  As if the unions can’t satisfy the needs of the people anymore.  Who are looking to get out of a failing marriage (see Snyder Wades Into Angry Debate Over Michigan Union Dues by Chris Christoff & Esme E. Deprez posted 12/12/2012 on Bloomberg).

Republican Governor Rick Snyder, who portrays himself as a pragmatic unifier, plunged Michigan into conflict by signing so-called right-to-work legislation.

Less than a week after Snyder ended his neutrality on the issue, lawmakers yesterday approved two bills that prohibit compulsory union dues for employees in organized workplaces. The governor signed them hours later.

“As a nonpolitician, I don’t respond to political pressure,” Snyder, 54, said at a Lansing news briefing. “I try to do what’s best for the citizens of Michigan.”

His decision to make Michigan the 24th right-to-work state in the U.S. made the self-described nerd and non-ideologue a new nemesis to Democrats and their union allies. Similar fights in Wisconsin and Indiana this year and last brought protesters into the streets, accusing Republicans of trying to gut labor’s power in its Midwestern stronghold…

About 17 percent of Michigan workers belong to unions, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. In the early 1960s, about 40 percent did…

Snyder said unions started the battle when they led an unsuccessful campaign to enshrine collective-bargaining rights in the Michigan constitution. The ballot proposal was defeated Nov. 6, despite a $23 million drive funded mostly by labor…

Supporters said the laws, which affect all government and private employees in organized workplaces except for police and firefighters, let workers withdraw support from unions they view as ineffective or politically unpalatable.

Then again, with only some 17% of the Michigan workforce unionized and an unemployment rate that was north of 10% for almost 3 of the past 4 years one can see why the people would want a divorce.

The interesting thing is that Michigan has a Republican legislature and a Republican governor yet this state voted for President Obama in 2012.  How is that possible?  How do you reject liberal policies at the state level and yet vote for them at the federal level?  Rust Belt states Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin all have Republican legislatures AND Republican governors.  And yet all but Indiana voted for President Obama, perhaps the most liberal president in U.S. history.  How does the national election NOT reflect the state elections?

Union supporters in Michigan are saying Governor Snyder ran as a moderate and then bowed to big money on the Right.  Of course that doesn’t explain the Republican legislature.  It would appear there is a political realignment in the Rust Belt.  Perhaps there will be a recall drive in Michigan.  Like there was in Wisconsin.  Of course, before the union spends another $20 million in a recall attempt they should note that Governor Walker won that recall election with a slightly larger margin than the election that brought him to office in the first place.

It could be that the people want jobs.  And to get jobs they need businesses to come to Michigan.  The Big Three (Ford, Chrysler and General Motors) have been in Michigan forever.  They’ve been bastions of union power.  But every new manufacturer since the Big Three chose to build in some state other than Michigan.  Most of them locating in the Right to Work South.  Something no doubt the people in the Rust Belt are tired of seeing.  Especially when your state has an unemployment rate higher than the national average.

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