More Wolverine Lessons

Friday, Charles commented on Michigan nearing passage of Right to Work, in line to become the 24th state where workers aren’t forced to pay fees to a union to keep their job. Charles’ lessons for bringing this critical reform to Pennsylvania: No more excuses, and no hero worship.

Here are a few more observations from Michigan, and what it will take to move the ball forward in Pennsylvania:

1) Michigan needs Right to Work badly.  Michigan ranked dead last among the states in economic performance, according the ALEC’s Rich States Poor States, and dead last in employment growth from 2000 to 2010—losing 17 percent of all jobs over that time.  Pennsylvania has been a lagard in economic growth, but not so desperate as the Wolverine state.

2) Michigan borders Indiana.  Seeing jobs flee across the border into Indiana—which enacted Right to Work earlier this year—was enough to convince Michigan lawmakers they need to act swiftly.  The Keystone State has the benefit of New Jersey and New York—two of the worst states for business—but as Michigan and Indiana join Virginia as nearby Right to Work states, Pennsylvania will have to improve to be able to compete for jobs.

3) Michigan taxpayers had already taken on Goliath, and won.   Michigan unions pushed an extraordinary ballot measure—entrenching special power and privileges into the state constitution—and spent $21 million campaigning for this measure.  Yet voters overwhelming rejected this proposal, sending a clear message to lawmakers.

Gov. Corbett suggested Pennsylvania “lacks the will” to pass Right to Work now —and he may be correct, despite the fact most voters would support it.  But the key ingredient missing is having the stones to take on Goliath—government union leaders and their allies—and win a victory for the taxpayer party on an issue like pension reform, prevailing wage relief, school choice, or ending the government monopoly liquor stores.