December 12, 2012 Leave a comment
Michigan became the 24th right to work state yesterday as Gov. Rick Snyder signed into law two workplace freedom bills. Depending on which media outlet you believe between 7,500 and 12,500 people protested at the Capitol in Lansing. To put that in perspective, it’s smaller than the student sections at Michigan State and Michigan’s football stadiums and is less than half of the number of kids unable to go to school because their teachers called in sick to protest. In a state where 17.5% of the workforce is unionized, the number of protesters was pitifully small. Unions just don’t have the emotional connection with people in Michigan that they once had.
One of the things that struck me about the protests yesterday is how old fashioned it was. We had people whining that the young people just don’t understand as they wax poetic telling romantic stories about union battles of the past. These battles are little more than tales of union thuggery (think Battle of the Overpass in 1937). On some level the unions tried their hand at thuggery yesterday. There was one union thug who punched a Fox News journalist and a group of union thugs tore down a tent. The big talker who punched the journalist claimed to have a gun and further claimed to have murdered in the past. Big talk, limited action. I’ll bet this wasn’t the “blood” the Democrat House leader had in mind.
The Michigan Education Association (the Michigan version of the NEA) brought in a bunch of inflatable rats who they named after various Republican politicians. The highlight was perhaps the sign which badly misspelled Gov. Snyder’s last name. One wonders how many people want their kids educated by teachers who spell Snyder ‘Synder’. Beyond that the inflatable rats are just childish and outdated. Calling people a rat or scab doesn’t hurt anyone, the general public couldn’t care less about such declarations anymore. The unions are stuck in the 30′s when calling someone a rat had a deeper meaning. Ask anyone under 50 what that deeper meaning is and you’re likely to get a blank stare.
The House Democrats spent most of yesterday offering bogus amendments and yelling ‘shame’ at Republicans. It’s particularly amusing to hear Democrats shout ‘shame on you’ at anyone, much less Republicans. The Democrat Party is the party of no shame. In the Democrats world there is no shame getting copious amounts of welfare, there’s no shame committing sexual perversion, there’s no shame in getting an abortion or three. But passing a right to work bill? Shame on you say the Democrats! Yet another example of outdated union techniques that just don’t resonate with people anymore.
Union membership is down across the country, it’s down to 17.5% in Michigan half of whom are public sector employees. In the last 12 years Michigan has gone from middle of the pack in unemployment to the bottom, we’ve gone from 16th in income to 39th. All of this while not being a right to work state. In right to work states the unemployment rate is lower and 70% of the new jobs created in the last four years have been in those states. Being a union state hasn’t exactly worked out well for Michigan as the country rapidly shifts from manufacturing. The difference in wages between union and non-union states is minimal while the headaches for business are clearly less in right to work states.
The left wants to romanticized unions and pretend like they’re more important to workers than they really are. The fact that in a supposedly big union state like Michigan the unions could only pull 12,500 at most to the Capitol suggests that this state just doesn’t care about unions anymore. The state defeated two pro-union ballot proposals in a heavy Democrat year. While the unions are yelling shame and calling people rats, young folks don’t even know what they’re talking about. Like the right has lost the young on morality the left has lost them on unions. Unions are from a bygone era of manufacturing that just don’t resonate with people anymore. Couple that with public sector unions that no one is found of and you get what we saw in Lansing yesterday: A bunch of aging union members shouting out slogans that don’t mean anything to people under 50.