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Michigan’s Republican Party is on a lame-duck blitzkrieg to pass extreme legislation that limits women’s health options, privatizes education and busts unions.

The fact that the Michigan GOP is taking on labor rights by ending closed union shops in the state where the labor movement helped create the middle class is a slap in the face to workers. That Republicans are doing it after Mitt Romney lost the state by 9.5 percent is a reminder of the lasting effects of the 2010 election, when Democrats stayed home and the GOP won the opportunity to redistrict themselves into power for the next decade.

The deceptively named “Right to Work” bill was passed by both state houses and is about to be signed into law without one hearing or any input from citizens. The legislation includes a $1 million appropriation so it cannot be overturned by popular vote, as the Emergency Manager Law was in November.

Labor is still trying to pressure Governor Rick Snyder, who until this lame-duck session had been reluctant to put his signature on a law designed to deflate union power in the heartland of the auto industry. But with multimillionaire Rick DeVos promising to support any Republican who votes for the bill and punish anyone who doesn’t, the bill seems destined to become law.

Find out why so-called “Right to Work” laws hurt all workers and weaken the middle class.

Photo credit: AP Photo/Carlos Osorio

Lower Wages


According to the Economic Policy Institute, the average full-time worker in a “Right To Work” state makes about $1,500 less annually than a similar worker in a non-RTW state. That’s not just union workers. That’s every worker earning less as a result of union busting.

“Where unions are strong, compensation increases even for workers not covered by any union contract, as non-union employers face competitive pressure to match union standards,” EPI has found.

Photo credit: “kaje_yomama” via Flickr.com

Less Health Care

In RTW states, 2.6 percent fewer workers have health care coverage than states where unions are allowed to automatically deduct dues from paychecks. If every state went in the direction Michigan is headed, two million workers would lose their health care, passing the costs of their care on to the taxpayers.

Photo credit: Joe Shlabotnik via Flickr.com

No Pensions


The idea of a good middle-class job that includes a pension has largely disappeared with the decline of unions in the United States. Workers in RTW states are 4.8 percent less likely to have a pension.

Photo credit: grantlairdjr via Flickr.com

More Dangerous Workplaces

In the 2011 study “Right-to-Work Laws and Fatalities in Construction,” University of Michigan researcher Roland Zullo found that RTW laws lead to systematic underfunding of workplace safety and accident prevention training. As a result, the instances of occupational fatalities were 34 percent higher in Right to Work states.

Photo: Man & His Cam via Flickr.com

Lower Growth


By now you must be thinking, “There’s gotta be some benefit to this law. How about growth? It’s gotta lead to new jobs…” The Higgins Labor Studies Program at the University of Notre Dame looked at states that recently became RTW and found that growth was higher before they passed the law. In addition, non-RTW states have a higher level of income.

So why, oh why would anyone pursue this policy? Well, corporate profits are at an all-time high and wages are at an all-time low. “Right to Work” (for less) is just another way that the richest conspire to pit workers against each other to rig a system that’s only designed to benefit themselves.

Chart credit: Chris Savage at Eclectablog

Poll: Most Parents Oppose Rapid School Reopening

Numerous local school systems around the country are plowing ahead with plans to resume in-person instruction despite growing evidence that children are just as capable of spreading the coronavirus as adults.

Classes were set to begin on Monday in Baker County, Florida. Masks for students will be optional, not required. "It looks like it's back to normal this morning, honestly," a local television reporter observed as parents dropped their kids off in the morning. Many students wore no face coverings.

The Trump administration and the GOP have pushed for full reopening of schools for months."Schools in our country should be opened ASAP," Donald Trump tweeted in May. "Much very good information now available."

"SCHOOLS MUST OPEN IN THE FALL!!!" he reiterated on July 6.

"The science and data is clear: children can be safe in schools this fall, and they must be in school this fall," demanded Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ) on Aug. 1.

"I believe our schools can, and should rise to the occasion of re-opening for in-person education this fall," agreed Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD) two days later.

"The CDC and Academy of Pediatrics agree: We can safely get students back in classrooms," tweeted House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) last Tuesday.

But while Scalise, Mike Pence, and Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos have all cited the American Academy of Pediatrics in their arguments for reopening, a new study by the group and the Children's Hospital Association raises red flags about how safe that will be.

Their report found 338,982 reported coronavirus cases in children as of July 30 in the United States. Between July 16 and July 30, the nation saw a 40% increase — 97,078 new infected children.

Last week, a high school student in an Atlanta suburb posted a photo online showing few students wearing masks in a crowded school hallway. Since that time, at least six students and three adult employees in the school have reportedly contracted the coronavirus, and the school temporarily has switched to online classes.

Another Georgia school district has already seen at least 13 students and staff members test positive since reopening a week ago.

A recent study in South Korea found that children aged ten and older spread the coronavirus at the same rates adults do. A separate study in Chicago suggested young kids might also be effective spreaders.

These contradict the false claims made by Trump and his administration that kids have an "amazing" near immunity to COVID-19.

"If you look at children, children are almost — and I would almost say definitely, but almost immune from this disease, so few. They've got stronger, hard to believe, and I don't know how you feel about it, but they have much stronger immune systems than we do somehow for this," Trump told Fox News on Wednesday.

"You got to open the schools. They have a stronger immune system even than you have or I have," he told Barstool Sports on July 23. "It's amazing. You look at the percentage, it's a tiny percentage of one percent. And in that one case, I mean, I looked at a couple of cases. If you have diabetes, if you have, you know, problems with something, but the kids are in great shape." Children have made up nearly nine percent of all cases, even with schools mostly closed.

And DeVos incorrectly said in a July 16 interview, "More and more studies show that kids are actually stoppers of the disease and they don't get it and transmit it themselves."

In early July, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued guidelines for how schools could operate more safely during the pandemic.

Trump publicly ridiculed the guidelines, dismissing them as "very tough & expensive" and "very impractical."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.