On Wednesday night the Grand Traverse County Board of Commissioners approved a resolution calling for the passage of a state right-to-work law. The amendment, proposed by Commissioner Jason Gillman, passed by a 5-2 vote, after a contentious public debate lasting more than 90 minutes.
The resolution calls on Gov. Rick Snyder and the county’s elected representatives in the state House and Senate to “propose and enact an Employee Freedom To Work Act that will safeguard our individual freedom and civil rights by guaranteeing that all persons in Michigan have the right, freely and without fear of penalty, to form, join, or assist a labor organization, or to refrain from any such activity in order to acquire, keep or maintain employment.”
The debate revealed sharp disagreements on the board. After Gillman argued that right-to-work was associated with higher job growth, Commissioner Ross Richardson countered that “I could just as easily quote the statistic that Michigan gets more snow than Florida so therefore the reason why we have more job growth in Florida is ‘cause they don’t get as much snow.” “That’s absurd” Gillman retorted to applause from the audience.
Speaking of union officials, who would be put in a position of having to raise dues voluntarily if the state were to pass a right-to-work law, Gillman commented that “there’s just a lot of folks who don’t want their cheese moved.” The Michigan AFL-CIO has been asked for comment but has yet to comment on the resolution.
The commission was technically meeting as the Committee on Public Health and Safety, but with only two members missing. Commissioners Gillman, Hentschel, Lemcool, Thomas and Maxbauer were in favor. Commissioners Richardson and Wheelock were opposed, while Inman and Fleis were excused from the evening’s session. The five votes should be sufficient to pass the resolution formally when the commission meets later in the month.