Labor reform that brings Michigan law up to date with the times is not something to be feared. The failure of union leaders to frighten the electorate on the issues of instituting right-to-work and repealing organized labor's special privileges suggest that Michigan may be ready for what was regarded as politically unthinkable a few years ago. Expanding the options of workers by granting them freedom of association is a civil rights issue. Ridding the books of special interest legislation that artificially raises costs to the taxpayer or restricts the ability of state government to contract with any qualified vendor is a quality management issue. These reforms also make eminently good economic sense.
The Governor should pursue the following:
Repeal of the Prevailing Wage Act of 1965. Michigan's image as a high-cost, over-regulated state is only reinforced by harmful laws like this and a similar one, the State Printing and Bidders' Requirement Act of 1937. By effectively freezing out non-union contractors, these laws have the effect of subsidizing the well-off, discriminating against minorities and women, diverting funds from education and the needy, wasting tens of millions of tax dollars every year, and hurting the competitiveness of our state's businesses.
Enactment of a Michigan Right-to-Work law. Right-to-work simply means that no man or woman may be compelled to join a labor organization in order to hold a job. It is not anti-union per se, but simply pro-choice on the issue of union membership. Experience in the 21 right-to-work states indicates that it encourages investment in new jobs and invigorates the economy with new incentives for entrepreneurship.