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Academics, workers, business owner caution MEDC against using ‘right-to-work’ to score points

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


Shining a light on Gov. Snyder’s attacks on workers

Yesterday evening, hundreds of labor activists gathered with torches and lights outside of West Grand and Third Street as part of a statewide effort to reject Gov. Rick Snyder’s anti-worker, anti-middle class ‘right-to-work’ legislation that is tearing Michigan apart.

The legislation, passed at the demands of wealthy, corporate interests including the Koch Brothers, Dick DeVos of AMWAY, General Electric, JP Morgan Chase, Exxon and many others.

This event was a mass showing of faith, community, labor and progressive organizations who are working together to build a mass movement for justice against this attack on Michigan’s working middle-class.


Faith, Labor, Community and Progressive Groups to Formally Announce Formation of We Are Michigan


New Organization – “We Are Michigan” – Will Explore Organizing and Electoral Options to Undo Governor Snyder’s Attempt to Tear Michigan Apart, Unravel the Middle Class

LANSING, MI – Friday, December 14, at 12 PM, faith, community, labor and progressive leaders will gather at the Michigan Statehouse to announce the formation of a 501(c)4 organization tasked with exploring organizing and electoral options to reverse the devastating effects of Governor Snyder’s attempt to unravel the middle class with so-called ‘right-to-work’ legislation passed earlier this week. We Are Michigan will unite a broad base of coalition partners committed to strengthening Michigan’s middle class and protecting critical public services.


WHAT: Announcement of new coalition group, “We Are Michigan”

WHO: Zack Pohl, Executive Director of Progress Michigan; Jon Hoadley, We Are Michigan campaign manager; Andy Nickelhoff, Legal Counsel; Rev. Greg Martin, Unitarian Universalist Church of Greater Lansing; Shalaya Bryant, Member of SEIU Healthcare Michigan

WHERE: Michigan Statehouse, Room 426 // Media can dial-in (Dial-In: 888.278.0296; Access: 7826926)

WHEN: Friday, December 14 at 12PM


We Are Michigan is a broad-based coalition of faith, labor, community and progressive groups that have joined together to fight back against Governor Snyder’s attacks on working people.  We will “Re-Invent Michigan” by organizing and building a movement for justice.


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