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State Rep. Barnett Speaks Out on Right To Work Bills

The Farmington-Farmington Hills lawmaker's floor speech before yesterday's vote is broadcast on YouTube.

Interrupted several times by applause, State Rep. Vicki Barnett (D-37th District) gave an impassioned plea yesterday for her colleagues to vote "no" on right-to-work legislation that eventually passed through the House and likely will become state law. 

In the speech, which was broadcast and shared on YouTube.com, Barnett said unions are not imposed on businesses and, under the National Labor Relations Act, no one is required to be a union member. She said workers go through a process that includes an election to form a union.

"It's called democracy," she said. 

Barnett represents both Farmington and Farmington Hills. 

In making the announcement Thursday that he would support right-to-work legislation, Gov. Rick Snyder, a Republican, said, "I think workplace fairness and equity is a better way to describe it, because it's about being pro-worker and giving workers the freedom to choose who they associate with."

He said the legislation will give Michigan a competitive advantage, and said Indiana, a right-to-work state, has "significantly increased" the number of businesses looking to locate there, due to the new law. 

FHVoice December 09, 2012 at 06:55 PM
art, spare us your in-artful platitudes and provide some facts behind your rantings. Labor problems resolved and gone by 1940? Really? Clearly your grasp of history is elusive. Here is some info to chew upon: American CEOs saw their pay spike 15% in 2011 after a 28% pay rise in 2010. Meanwhile, workers saw their inflation-adjusted wages FALL 2% in 2011. That's in line with a trend that dates back 30 years. CEO pay spiked 725% between 1978 and 2011, while worker pay rose just 5.7%. Ergo, CEO pay grew 127 times faster than worker pay. Income inequality between CEOs and workers has consequently exploded, with CEOs last year earning 209.4 times more than workers, compared to just 26.5 times more in 1978 -- meaning CEOs are taking home a larger percentage of company gains. That comes despite workers nearly doubling their productivity during the same time period, when compensation barely rose. Worker productivity spiked 93% between 1978 and 2011 on a per-hour basis, and 85% on a per-person basis, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. Meanwhile, workers saw their inflation-adjusted wages fall in recent years as corporations postponed giving raises while adding to their record corporate profits. In fact, the US has family income distribution ranks 43rd out of 134 four countries.That's Snyder/Romney type of American exceptionalism. Our growing income chasm threatens this country's future. Sources: http://goo.gl/wnFvs & http://goo.gl/G9dFq
Bryce December 09, 2012 at 08:37 PM
FH Voice: I fail to see why the CEO vs. worker pay is relevant except to promote class envy. It's a supply and demand issue. There are less folks capable of being a CEO than a normal worker. Diamonds are worth much more than coal, A pitcher able to win 20 games a year will make more than the bat boy. Here is something for you to chew on... From 2001 to 2011, inflation-adjusted private-sector compensation increased by 12.0% in Right to Work states. That’s double the national average and quadruple the forced-unionism state average. See link from the US Bureau of Economic Analysis. http://bea.gov/iTable/iTable.cfm?ReqID=70&step=1&isuri=1&acrdn=4#:
FHVoice December 10, 2012 at 03:42 AM
Bryce, the CEO vs. worker pay is relevant to demonstrate that management hasn't been hamstrung by union agreements, and as union membership has declined, management has kept all the productivity profit gains for themselves. As Warren Buffet declared, “The interesting thing is that the tax code, I wouldn’t call it a war, but it is a struggle. Groups try to keep their own taxes down. People lobby to keep their estate taxes down. They lobby to keep their capital gains taxes down. So, if this is a war – I wouldn’t call it a war, I’d call it a struggle – but, if this is a war, my side has had the nuclear bomb. We’ve got K-Street, we’ve got lobbyists, we’ve got money on our side in terms of lobbyists. Deb does not have a lobbyist. She doesn’t have anybody remotely that’s representing her. But, believe me, plenty of rich families have lobbyists that are working like crazy to get rid of estate taxes, lower capital gain taxes, whatever it may be. So, if there has been a war going on, the war has been waged by the people who are very well to do who are trying to shift the burden onto people like that and away from themselves.” Consider that point: "the war has been waged by the people who are very well to do who are trying to shift the burden onto people like that and away from themselves". That describes the DeVos / Koch / Snyder alliance attacking unions, just as it describes the GOP's support of the 2%. Pointing that out isn't envy. It's just fact.
Jim Sparks December 10, 2012 at 03:52 PM
ALL of them? Are you sure? Isn't that like saying ALL business owners are dishonest, mean-spirited money grubbers? I'm not saying that. However, this legislation is designed purely to enable an un-level playing field, and those who back it are rubbing their hands in glee. By the way, when did a decent, living wage become a relic of history? The 20's and 30's had sweatshops and child labor right here in the good ol' USA. They're the reason unions were created, and they remain vital in keeping us from revisiting those dark days. Corruption? Yes. Name ONE industry or entity completely without it. Doesn't negate the need for collective bargaining, nor the fight to maintain a respectable and prosperous middle class. Like I said, if that kind of labor scenario sounds good to you - move to Indonesia. I'm absolutely sure you'll get a job.
FHVoice December 10, 2012 at 07:37 PM
Jim, after the greed and gambling in the financial sector tanked the economy, and after having to give billions to banks to save it, somehow unions are the root of all evil. Surely, those who believe that are looking into the wrong end of the telescope.

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