As we look back at Michigan’s experience with Freedom to Work and the law’s future in this state, I’d like to begin this morning by reading an Associated Press headline from August 26 of this year.
“Toyota Expansion in Michigan Relocating 250 Kentucky Jobs.”
l’ll wait a moment and let that headline sink in for everyone here.
I actually prefer this next headline on the same topic from Forbes Magazine, because it captures a bit of the emotion inherent in an announcement like that:
“Toyota’s Not Just Moving to Texas; It’s Beefing Up in Michigan”
You get the sense that if the author could have inserted an exclamation point at the end of the headline, he would have.
Asked why the automaker decided now to invest more than $32 million dollars in a brand new facility expansion, and why it would move hundreds of jobs out of the south and into the heart of organized labor, the response was “Michigan now is a very excellent place to do business. The (Snyder) administration has been very positive in terms of some of its policies related to business.”
How’s that for understatement?
We’ve come a long way in the last few years. Now we are literally stealing jobs from Kentucky and leading the nation in manufacturing job growth.
Less than two years ago, Governor Snyder and lawmakers in Lansing took a bold step, standing up for Michigan workers, standing up for Michigan jobs.
And for freedom.
The early returns for Freedom to Work here in Michigan – like that headline from Forbes Magazine – couldn’t be more encouraging. Michigan’s unemployment rate is down and falling, but it’s about even more than that. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Michigan has added more than 275,000 jobs since January 2011. And it’s worth repeating – we are leading the nation in manufacturing job growth.
Last month, the annual “Rich States Poor States” analysis was published, highlighted by the release of its annual competitiveness index, ranking the economic outlook of every state in the nation. Michigan was ranked 12th best in the country – up from 34th.
Just last week, a study conducted by economists at Northwood University, Rutgers University and Central Michigan University revealed that Michigan is the top performing Great Lakes state with gross state product growing at an average rate of 2.56 percent over the last three years, better than the Great Lakes region rate of just over 2% and national rate of just under 2%.
The same study, by the way, examined the effect of Freedom-to-Work laws on a state’s economic competitiveness and found that states with labor freedomwere, on average, ranked 20 positions higher.
Here in Michigan it’s early yet-less than two years since Freedom-to-Work became the law of the land-but the returns have been right in line with what we’ve seen in other freedom to work states.
The nonprofit Opportunity Ohio, last month published numbers showing that since 1 990, 9 of the 12 states with the highest rates of job growth were freedom-to-work states, also noting that freedom-to-work states outperform others even when those states also have higher tn me taxes which should make my friends on the other side of the political spectrum happy.
With all of that good news, and proven, time-tested results, there’s little wonder why freedom-to-work remains so popular among voters.
Just weeks ago, as the campaign season began heating up, Gallup released the results of a new poll gauging America’s opinion on unions and labor issues. It found than an astonishing 82% of Americans believe no American should be required to join any private organization, like a labor union, against his or her will.
What’s more, 71% of voters said they don’t just support freedom-to-work-they would actually vote to enact it if it were on the ballot.
I suspect those numbers are also a reflection of voters’ distaste for Big Labor’s lack of focus on their members, their continued preoccupation with politics, and the liberal use of members’ dues to support their own political agendas, even when they are at odds with individual members’ personal political views.
Politicians like Mark Schauer and other allies of Big Labor have pledged to repeal Michigan’s freedom-to-work law, if they’re elected. And it isn’t merely a campaign promise – a repeal is the central plank of Schauer’s candidacy. While you won’t see the issue at the ballot box come November, make no mistake-this election represents a real, and critical referendum on Freedom-to-Work.
And while Gallup reports that voters overwhelmingly support the reform, as the calendar turns to October, polls show the race for Governor here in Michigan still much too close.
On December 11, 2012, a state lawmaker from the Detroit-area stood on the floor of the Michigan House of Representatives during the debate over freedom-to-work and said – and this is a quote – “there will be blood, there will be repercussions.”
The results of the law have been quite different from that day in Lansing-and quite different from the good Representative’s threatening prophecies.
While organized labor has certainly continued its assault on workers’ freedom and those who support it, instead of blood in the streets, we’ve Seen falling unemployment, new jobs being created across the state, a dramatically brighter environment for jobs and more families putting down roots in Michigan.
Hardly the kind of repercussions opponents had in mind. Absolutely the kind of results worth fighting to protect this November,