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Beyond Wisconsin: “Right-to-Work” Laid to Rest in WV; MI Rep. Hopes to Expand to Public Safety Unions

MI police firefighters right-to-work

Last week’s events in Wisconsin largely dominated the “Right-to-Work” news cycle, but Republicans in West Virginia and Michigan have been hard at work on the issue as well, with varying results.

In West Virginia, Senate Majority Leader Mitch Carmichael told the Associated Press he believes the “Right-to-Work” bill he sponsored is officially dead for the legislative session. This is particularly encouraging for construction workers who just lost a fight to keep the prevailing wage fully in tact.  Carmichael’s bill would have made it a misdemeanor to require workers to join a union, punishable with a fine of up to $5,000.  

Holding out hope, Carmichael told the AP that “Right-to-Work” is still in an “evaluation phase.”  With the current session ending on March 14th, there is hardly time to evaluate anything.  

Michigan, meanwhile, is already a “Right-to-Work” state, but Rep. Gary Glenn is not satisfied. He wants to expand the reach of his state’s law to include police officers and firefighters (they received a carve out when the bill was passed in 2012).  The newly-elected Midland resident is seeking co-sponsors and hopes to introduce this month.  When he signed the “Right-to-Work” bill, Governor Rick Snyder made the carve out non-negotiable.

“As a matter of public policy, Michigan now protects all employees from being discriminated against or fired based on choosing not to join or financially support a labor union, except for public safety employees,” Glenn said. “There is no justification for denying that same protection from public safety employees.”

Glenn’s comments to MLive.com provide further evidence that “Right-to-Work” is merely a game to the Republican party and its dark money underground.  When asked about the timing of his bill given the current “Right-to-Work” situation in Wisconsin, Glenn responded: “I’d like to get Michigan back on the scoreboard.”

State Rep. Vanessa Guerra, D-Bridgeport Township, said she was concerned about the impact Glenn’s bill would have on communities:

“My initial reaction is that police and fire departments are not businesses and should not be treated like businesses,” she said “Attempting to cut costs by weakening unions that are looking out for the best interests of our police and firefighters doesn’t just hurt those public servants – it puts the public safety at risk.”

While Glenn is a newcomer in the legislature he has been fighting for “Right-to_Work” for nearly two decades.  Glenn was a founding member of the Michigan Freedom to Work Coalition, founded in 2011.  In 1986 he helped actor Charlton Heston fight for “Right-to-Work” in Idaho.  

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