State's governor signs 'right to work' bills

SAG-AFTRA and the Writers Guild of America East have blasted legislation making Michigan a “right to work” state.

The unions issued the condemnations after Gov. Rick Snyder signed into law bills that ban mandatory union membership, making Michigan the nation’s 24th right-to-work state.

The new laws prohibit requiring non-union employees to pay unions for negotiating contracts, representing them in grievances and other services. Supporters assert that “right to work” laws promote job creation; opponents insist that the laws are aimed at cutting unions from the funds needed to bargain effectively.

“This legislation does nothing but require that unions provide full representational services to people who refuse to pay their fair share of the cost,” SAG-AFTRA said. “It’s freeloading.”

The WGA East noted that such a bill allows nonmembers to work under union contracts without paying dues for the union’s services.

“The Writers Guild of America East condemns this transparent effort to deprive organized labor of resources and to drive wages and benefits down, down, down,” the guild said. “What the Michigan politicians did has nothing to do with ‘rights’ or ‘work.’ It has to do with weakening organized opposition. A power grab, pure and simple. Knocking the props from under unions will not improve the lives of anyone who works for a living.”

The WGA East warned that people will be forced to work for lower wages and reduced (or nonexistent) benefits, without a voice on the job.

“Income inequality will continue to expand, the rich will get even wealthier, and the rest of us will struggle harder and harder to make ends meet,” it added. “Or, at least, this will happen unless we reject the distorted fairy tale rushed through by Michigan’s cynical politicos.”

Hollywood-based SAG-AFTRA has about 165,000 members, while New York-based WGA East has about 3,600 members. Members can file for “financial core” status, under which they resign their membership and withhold the dues spent by the union on political activities but can still work on union jobs.

SAG-AFTRA’s LM-2 filing with the Dept. of Labor included 2,076 “agency fee payers” as of July 31.

SAG-AFTRA strongly opposed California’s Proposition 32, which narrowly lost at the polls last month. The proposition — dubbed the “Paycheck Protection” initiative — was aimed at curbing the political influence of unions by banning the orgs from donating funds to political candidates and campaigns.

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