Right-to-Work Town Hall Roundup: Week One
AFP-Michigan on Monday, March 4th launched an 11-stop, statewide RTW Town Hall Tour. The tour featured experts on the issue, including F. Vincent Vernuccio of the Mackinac Center, Professor Lewis Butler of Hillsdale College, and Terry Bowman of Union Conservatives. Aiming at furthering the conversation and altering commonly held misconceptions, the events were well-attended by non-union members and union workers alike.
March 4th to March 8th, the group made stops in Jackson, Warren, Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, and Ypsilanti.
In Jackson, Terry Bowman addressed the free-rider argument:
“Union members who want to opt-out are not free-riders,” said Bowman, “They’re forced-riders.” Freedom to work is freedom of choice guaranteed by the first amendment. Workers who want to opt-out of unions are not looking to “free-ride.” Rather, they are being forced to accept a collective bargaining agreement, as well as political causes they don’t support.
“I have faith in workers. If a union is doing a good job and representing its members, workers will continue to pay dues,” Vinnie told an attentive crowd in Warren.
Vernuccio fortified an important point: Right-to-Work actually makes unions stronger because it forces unions to serve workers better. Union membership is growing in right to work states as a result of better “customer service” on the part of unions.
“People vote with their feet,” said Hillsdale Economics Professor Lewis Butler. “They move to places where there is freedom to seek prosperity.”
In Grand Rapids, union members aired concerns. One angry gentleman fixated on AFP-Michigan State Director Scott Hagerstrom, demanding to know the source of AFP’s funding.
“Who pays you? Who writes your check?”
The questions were reminiscent of Hagerstrom’s Hardball interview following passage of Right-to-Work legislation last December. Several audience members, in response to the accusatory questions, vocalized strong support for the organization and its mission to protect individual liberty.
A Teamster leader stood and stated that he wasn’t concerned with the new right-to-work legislation, because he walks the dock to make sure he knows the concerns of all of the workers. Which is exactly what right-to-work seeks to accomplish: unions will be forced to make worker concerns a priority. Unions will have to provide real value to their membership or they will lose membership.
Protesters carried “Prop 2″ signs and paced the sidewalk outside of the Ypsilanti town hall. Hagerstrom invited the protesters to join the event, but they declined.
“I invited the protesters to come inside because these town halls are very much about having a civil conversation about right-to-work legislation,” Hagerstrom stated.