ESCANABA, Mich. –The Delta County Republican Party Executive Committee, by a poll of its members this weekend, endorsed passage of a Freedom to Work law to protect employees from being forced to join or give money to a labor union under threat of being fired.
County GOP chair Barbara Barron said local Republicans will deliver that message to Lt. Gov. Brian Calley personally Monday during his visit to Escanaba.
“Lt. Gov. Calley will be in the Escanaba area today. He voted for Right to Work as a state representative in 2008. We will ask him today to help us with this proposal. We will also ask Sen. Tom Casperson and Rep. Ed McBroom to co-sponsor and vote for the proposal, and we will urge all other fourteen Upper Peninsula GOP county executive committees to endorse Freedom to Work legislation for Michigan, as well as our representative to the state Republican Party,” Barron said.
“We have seen the numbers –- 4.8 million people moving from forced union states to Right to Work states from 2000 to 2008,” said Barron. “According to the Detroit News, 54,000 people have moved out of Michigan as the state lost 800,000 jobs and personal income dropped more than 20 perdcent. We see this in Delta County too. Nearly 2,000 people have moved from Delta County over the past few years. Fewer jobs means fewer people and fewer taxpayers, leaving local government in a pinch to provide services.”
“We have witnessed large Delta County employers Harnishfeger Corp., Eaton Corp., Escan Corp., Northern Rebuilders, and Lakeside Machine all close their doors. All five were union shops. In the Escanaba School District, we’ve watched the enrollment numbers shrink by half, and seven out of ten neighborhood elementary schools close. Historic churches have also been shut down and sold, forcing consolidation of congregations,” Barron said.
At a recent news conference in Escanaba, former Teamsters member Doug Sedenquist pointed out that unions in Michigan lost 11.7 percent of their workforce in 2010 alone. “That is 83,000 lost jobs in one year alone,” Sedenquist stated.
He noted that the top job-producing states over the last decade are all Right to Work states. While Michigan was losing 800,000 jobs, Texas was adding 866,000 jobs, he said, pointing to comments by Texas Workforce Commissioner Tom Pauken at a Michigan conference this spring that Texas’ Right to Work law was by far the single biggest reason for that state’s success in job creation.
Barron said the Delta County Republican Party wants to see jobs come back. “We’ve lost most of our large manufacturers. The facts show that new union jobs typically pay about one half of what veteran members make. Many Right to Work states have a lower cost of living and a higher net take home pay. People in Right to Work states have more disposable income. Two thirds of the Right to Work states have higher personal incomes than Michigan.”
She said that according to statistics on the Delta County Economic Development website, the Delta County median family income is nearly $6,500 less than the national average, and per capita income is nearly $3,000 less.
“We have nearly 3,600 people living at less than the poverty level. The bottom line is that Delta County and the state of Michigan need to be competitive with other states that are gaining jobs,” Barron said. “To have jobs, we need employers. To have students to teach, we need families with jobs. We need jobs to keep our children and grandchildren close. We are convinced the Freedom To Work proposal is not only a jobs proposal, but a freedom and civil rights proposal.”