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The Real Story from Michigan

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.

There was a moment last week when our first amendment rights were trampled on, when individuals who didn’t want to let us speak physically tried to make us stop. In videos that have made the rounds on YouTube, pro union protestors vandalized our property, tore down our Americans for Prosperity tent endangering the safety of some of our members inside, and sought to intimidate us to leave.


I’m proud to say that AFP activists have fought alongside a strong coalition of freedom-loving groups in Michigan to help pass this right-to-work law, which, just six weeks ago, seemed like a long shot. Thousands of activists worked hard for the last few weeks, tirelessly making phone calls, visiting key lawmakers and gathering outside the Capitol in support of workers’ rights.

Despite the rhetoric of union bullies, right-to-work laws are proven to promote economic growth. Over the past ten years right-to-work states have seen greater private sector job growth and greater population growth along with fewer welfare recipients than in forced union states. Furthermore, family budgets are growing in right-to-work states. These states saw real personal income grow faster than in forced union states and exceed the national average

These laws are common sense; they don’t undermine workers, they liberate them. They liberate by allowing individuals to choose whether to join a union and by not allowing unions preferred status to deduct union dues from your paychecks. No other organization (other than perhaps the government) has the power to seize money directly out of your paycheck without consent. No wonder they’re fighting laws that promote worker freedom with so much anger and vitriol.

The reality is, right-to-work is good for workers and good for unions. Competition for your hard earned dollars by union organizations will encourage them to modernize, to work harder for their members, and not waste money. Workers still are free to join a union and contribute dues if they find value in the services provided.


Voters brought change to Wisconsin last year, and Michiganders are equally hungry to see their struggling state economy begin to recover. They want to see more freedom and more open labor markets because they help workers and attract new business. They want to remove barriers to job growth, and they want to keep more money in the pockets of the American people.

After union members had trampled our first amendment rights, torn down our tent and shouted obscenities, they tried to blame the violence on us. I’m sure you’ll hear that narrative; it’s all over left blogs. It is a shameful lie. Quite to the contrary of provoking violence, Americans for Prosperity deliberately and voluntarily ceded our reserved space on the Capitol steps to the union protesters, allowing them the full area. We instead moved to an area on the Capitol lawn and erected a tent where right-to-work supporters could gather with some measure of separation from the frenzied union mob of protesters.

As is quite clear from the video footage, right-to-work supporters were simply trying to have a civil discourse over this important issue. When union supporters resorted to blows, right-to-work supporters refused to return them. That’s not violence-inciting; that’s free speech in action.

Union organizer are upset because all across the country, we’re winning the hearts and minds of Americans, and they’re seeing, more and more, that states simply function better when economic freedom expands for everyone


As we learned from Wisconsin the fight for the right-to-work is likely not over with the passage of this law. Hopefully it will be fought in words and ideas, with civil discourse but as this week proved that may not be the case. Democrat lawmaker Douglas Gleiss said “There will be blood, there will be repercussions.” What’s astonishing is that statement wasn’t more roundly condemned. We hope and pray there is no more violence as our nation grapples with tough and divisive issues. We know the fight is far from over in Michigan, it’ll be months if not years for this law to withstand the challenges, both at the voting booth and in court.

We’ve won in Wisconsin. We’re winning in Michigan, and at least a half-dozen states are expected to take up right-to-work laws in 2013. Americans for Prosperity will continue to promote our peaceful message of economic freedom throughout the country.

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