Right-to-work drive gains steam in Michigan

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“Seven of the 10 highest-unemployment states are states with right-to-work laws, including Nevada and Florida, which have unemployment rates higher than Michigan’s unemployment rate of 10.5 percent, and South Carolina, which also has an unemployment rate of 10.5 percent,” noted EPI economist Gordon Lafer.

Douglas B. Roberts, a former Michigan state treasurer who now serves as director of Michigan State University’s Institute for Public Policy and Social Research, said that if the GOP-led Legislature does pass a right-to-work law, Democrats would attempt to exploit the move at the polls in November 2012.

“I do not believe the climate of opinion in Michigan has changed nearly enough not to take this on. The question here is benefit and cost, and the cost would be enormously divisive,” Mr. Roberts predicted. “This would bring the unions into a consolidated effort and really would become the single rallying cry for Democrats in the next election.”

The state’s Republican governor, Rick Snyder, has said right-to-work laws are not on his agenda, calling them divisive at a time when his state must band together to change its economic direction. But some speculate that, if such a law moved through the Legislature, Mr. Snyder might quietly pass on the chance to veto it.

Among those betting on the governor’s ultimate support is Mr. Shirkey, who said Mr. Snyder, a successful entrepreneur before taking office, has done “some unbelievably courageous and gutsy things” since his election a year ago and is not afraid of going against the grain.

“He would say, ‘It’s not on my agenda,’ but he’s not saying it can’t be on his agenda,” Mr. Shirkey said.

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