Guest post from John Karebian.

All workers deserve a say in their wages, benefits and working conditions. Without a strong voice in the workplace, nurses and other employees can be taken advantage of by corporations that care only about increasing their profits.

One way that CEOs and their political supporters are trying to silence workers is by pushing so-called “Right to Work” legislation in Michigan and around the country.

Despite the misleading name, “Right to Work” laws do not provide rights to a job. They also do not have anything to do with people being forced to join a union or required to pay union dues that fund political causes they disagree with (federal law already prohibits both of these).

Instead, the laws are aimed at destroying unions’ ability to effectively represent workers and bargain for fair wages and benefits. They do this by interfering with the relationship between employees and employers, banning them from negotiating a contract that requires all members of a union who benefit from representation to pay their fair share.

Pulling the financial rug out from under unions takes bargaining power away from workers, resulting in a “race to the bottom” in states like Arkansas and Mississippi. 

“Right to Work” laws are often referred to as “Right to Work (For Less)” laws because of their destructive impact. Research shows that for both union and non-union workers, “Right to Work” laws: 

  • Lower wages, by an average of $1,500 per year
  • Decrease the likelihood that employees receive health insurance
  • Decrease the likelihood that employees receive a pension

“Right to Work” laws have no impact on job growth and economic development. By lowering wages, “Right to Work” can actually hurt job creation: When consumers don’t have money to spend, businesses suffer. 

It’s clear that if “Right to Work” legislation passes, Michigan workers would suffer and economic recovery for the 99 percent would be even further away. It’s also clear that this is part of a national campaign to take power away from middle-class workers – a campaign committed by greedy corporations and the politicians they control with their money. 

MNA is standing up against these attacks to silence working men and women. 

Through successful contracts at the University of Michigan and elsewhere, we’ve shown that unions are essential to providing a check against employers’ unreasonable demands. 

And through our Main Street Contract campaign, we’re working to change our nation’s priorities so that jobs at living wages are available for all. 

By uniting and putting power where it belongs – in the hands of those who do the work, not those who merely profit from it – workers can make Michigan a state where everyone has the opportunity to prosper.

John Karebian is the Executive Director of the Michigan Nurses Association. This is cross-posted at Fight for Main Street.


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