FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2013
CONTACT: Elizabeth Battiste, (248) 404-7846
LANSING – Politicians and economic policymakers should not use Michigan’s controversial new “right to work” law to score points and mislead the public into believing it attracts new jobs, academics, small business owners and Michigan workers said today.
The caution came as the Michigan Economic Development Corp. considers applications for tax breaks from 10 companies today and two weeks after the MEDC paid for a full-page ad in the Wall Street Journal that used the popular Pure Michigan brand to promote “right to work.” That decision sparked a major national backlash and even forced Gov. Rick Snyder to publicly distance himself from the ad.
“I hope the ‘right to work’ issue, which has been highly politicized in the past two months, is not further used in the economic arena to score political points,” said Peter Berg, an economist at Michigan State University. “The Wall Street Journal ad that explicitly uses the divisive ‘right to work’ issue should give all of us some concern. ‘Right to work’ is not the engine for economic growth, and policymakers should be careful about misusing it.”
The facts about “right to work” include[i]:
Four of the six fastest-growing state economies in 2010-2011 were strong union states that did NOT have “right to work” – including Michigan.
Connecticut, New Jersey and Maryland have the fastest income growth, and they are NOT “right to work” states.
The three states with the highest rates of uninsured people are “right to work” states.
“Michigan has slashed spending on higher education by a whopping 21.5 percent in the past five years, which is especially disturbing in light of the fact that a strong corps of college graduates is critical to a state’s ability to sustain economic growth,” said Bonnie Halloran, University of Michigan-Dearborn anthropology instructor. “If ‘right-to-work’ were such a powerful tool for economic growth, then the MEDC should consider redirecting these tax breaks back to our classrooms and our colleges. The MEDC should not be used as a political puppet for the governor’s re-election campaign or to promote a partisan agenda.”
Michael Magdich, founder and owner of First Catalyst Group, Inc., a consulting company that assists start up businesses get off the ground, said: “While I am excited to see businesses choose Michigan, I am concerned that ‘right to work’ is being falsely sold as a cure-all for Michigan’s economy. The best way to move Michigan’s economy forward is by building a workforce of well-paid, skilled workers and producing more college graduates, not creating the conditions that reduce wages and benefits. ‘Right to work’ is a distraction Michigan cannot afford, and our policymakers should understand that people are paying attention to this issue.”
“While we’re all glad to hear about new jobs coming to Michigan, it would be wrong to use these promises as proof that ‘right to work’ is succeeding,” said Ashley E. Forsberg, a registered nurse at Sparrow Hospital and member of the Michigan Nurses Association. “By rushing ‘right to work,’ into law, Gov. Snyder has given corporations more power than ever to exploit workers. We all want companies to prosper, but we want to make sure that Michigan workers share in that prosperity.”
[i] U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, U.S. Census