As state legislators returned to work this week, much of the buzz in Lansing has centered on attempts to get funding for road and bridge repairs and a bizarre sex scandal. However, one local Democrat is hoping to have an issue rushed through the House prior to his election revisited.
John Chirkun, a Roseville Democrat, announced Wednesday he is introducing a pair of bills that would overturn the right-to-work legislation that eliminated compulsory dues for unions in many workplaces.
In a release, he said the pair of House bills “would return Michigan to a ‘free bargaining’ state, where unions are better positioned to negotiate for pay, benefits and working conditions on behalf of their members.”
At the same time, he took issue with the premise behind legislation pushed through during an end-of-year, lame duck session in 2012.
“The term ‘right-to-work’ is misleading because these laws don’t confer any extra rights, they just weaken unions and hurt workers,” Chirkun said. “Wages, benefits and workplace safety are lower practically across the board in right-to-work states. It’s just bad policy.”
The release went on to say the legislation pushed by Republicans and signed by Gov. Rick Snyder has not had the outcome its backers predicted it would.
“According to the most recent data available from the Department of Technology, Management and Budget, Michigan’s unemployment rate of 5.5 percent continues to be higher than the national average of 5.3 percent. This makes Michigan tied for 28th in the nation, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Right-to-work is not the panacea of job growth that Republicans claim it to be,” Chirkun said.
Chirkun also takes issue with the manner in which right-to-work legislation was approved.
“The manner in which these bills were passed was completely undemocratic. If right-to-work is good policy, why did it have to be rammed through the process?” Chirkun said. “Our state succeeds when its workers succeed, and workers deserve the right to bargain collectively on a level playing field. Right-to-work is wrong for Michigan,” he said.
Chirkun, the former mayor of Roseville, was elected to the House of Representatives in 2014.
In December 2012, the legislation passed mainly along partisian lines with Republicans voting for it and Democrats against. One exception was Sterling Heights Republican Senator Tory Rocca, who voted against the pair of bills.
— Macomb Daily Staff