For generations, Michigan was the ultimate labor stronghold – a state built by factory workers for whom a high school diploma and a union card were the ticket to a middle-class life.
Yet it took only hours for Republicans to tear down a key part of that tradition, the requirement that all employees in a union workplace pay dues.
The swift action was the result of a decisive governor who teamed up with a supermajority of GOP allies in the statehouse to win a prize long sought by conservatives. It also provided a window into how state governments might work in an era when they are increasingly run by a single party.
Gov. Rick Snyder, a venture capitalist and corporate executive before his successful run for governor in 2010, didn’t bother with political niceties this week after dropping his previous objection to dealing with the right-to-work issue. He announced his support Thursday at a news conference.
Within hours, the House and Senate had introduced and approved bills prohibiting what are known as “closed shops,” where workers are required to join a union or pay fees that are equivalent to union dues as a condition of employment.