How Republicans engineered a blow to Michigan's powerful unions

As a trained aerospace engineer, Patrick Colbeck applied his penchant for data analysis and "systematic approach" to his new job in early 2011: a Michigan state senator, recently elected and keen to create jobs in the faded industrial powerhouse.

Those skills paid off handsomely for the first-term Republican this week as Governor Rick Snyder signed into law bills co-sponsored by Colbeck that ban mandatory union membership, making Michigan the nation's 24th right-to-work state.

From outside Michigan Republican circles, it appeared that the Republican drive to weaken unions came out of the blue - proposed, passed and signed in a mere six days.

But the transformation had been in the making since March 2011 when Colbeck and a fellow freshman, state Representative Mike Shirkey, first seriously considered legislation to ban mandatory collection of union dues as a condition of employment in Michigan.

Such was their zeal, they even went to union halls to make their pitch and were treated "respectfully," Colbeck said.

The upstarts were flirting with the once unthinkable, limiting union rights in a state that is the home of the heavily unionized U.S.

auto industry and the birthplace of the nation's richest union, the United Auto Workers.

For many Americans, Michigan is the state that defines organized labor.

But in a convergence of methodical planning and patient alliance building - the "systematic approach" - the reformers were on a roll, one that establishment Michigan Republicans came to embrace and promised to bankroll.

Republicans executed a plan - the timing, the language of the bills, the media strategy, and perhaps most importantly, the behind-the-scenes lobbying of top Republicans including Snyder.

They knew they would likely face an acrimonious battle of the kind they had seen over the last two years in the neighboring state of Wisconsin between Republican Governor Scott Walker and unions.

... contd.

Please read our terms of use before posting comments
TERMS OF USE: The views, opinions and comments posted are your, and are not endorsed by this website. You shall be solely responsible for the comment posted here. The website reserves the right to delete, reject, or otherwise remove any views, opinions and comments posted or part thereof. You shall ensure that the comment is not inflammatory, abusive, derogatory, defamatory &/or obscene, or contain pornographic matter and/or does not constitute hate mail, or violate privacy of any person (s) or breach confidentiality or otherwise is illegal, immoral or contrary to public policy. Nor should it contain anything infringing copyright &/or intellectual property rights of any person(s).
comments powered by Disqus