They never met a union they didn’t like I guess. Right-to-work bill: Michigan just gives up – Salon.com.
OK, first they set the stage by talking about college graduates and the Michigan Brain-drain. (Mostly draining toward Chicago, but to other places as well.)
Fifty percent of Michigan State students now leave the state immediately after graduation. That ratio doubled in the 2000s, which is known in Michigan as “The Lost Decade.” In those 10 years, Michigan dropped from 30th to 35th in the percentage of college graduates, and from 18th to 37th in per capita income. (Michigan was also the only state to lose population in the last census.) The university system’s main function is giving Michigan’s brightest students a credential to get the hell off that jobless peninsula.
Then Salon goes on to talk about how one graduate could either get a job with a rental-car company, or a consulting firm in Chicago. (Guess which he picked?) All of which, as far as I can see, has absolutely nothing to do with unions or the right-to-work. He isn’t in a union in Chicago – he works for an accounting firm – and he wouldn’t have been a union-member in Michigan, unless he became a grunt, retail-employee.
But the brain-drain, is apparently why Michigan is passing right-to-work laws. According to Salon. Since it can’t create manufacturing jobs, and it can’t create white-collar jobs, it does need to do something.
Consider Flint Michigan, the poster-child for relying on big companies employing big-unions. According to the Wikipedia entry, manufacturing employment fell from just shy of 80,000 in the 1970s to about 8,000 today. Michigan’s reliance on union-style jobs has not worked.
I shudder to bring up Detroit, but you have to. 47% illiteracy rate in Detroit. Another city that saw unions and union employment as the only future it needed.
Salon talks of “winners” and “losers” and the difference between Illinois and Michigan is key, but not for the random chance that Salon seems to think.
Michigan leads the nation in urban poverty, violence and decrepitude. Detroit is such an international symbol of post-industrial decay that artists fly all the way from Europe just to photograph its ruins.
Michigan had the auto industry. Illinois had (past tense mostly) steel, meat packing, construction equipment (Caterpillar), farm equipment (John Deere), shipping, insurance, retail, and a host of other industries. And just by chance, they didn’t all go belly-up at the same time. And Chicago supports a fair number of accounting/consulting firms, some software and a dash of high-tech, just to make things even more interesting.
Most of those union jobs aren’t coming back. It is never going to be 1970 again in Detroit or in Flint. (For a glimpse how Detroit looks today, click through to the Salon article and take a look at the attached photo.) The Salon article touches on things like globalization – that we can no longer charge whatever we want to for things, because unlike in 1950, we have global competition. And Detroit has competition from Tennessee. (And other places that Toyota and others have built car manufacturing plants.)
The Salon article ends by lamenting the fact the Michigan is trying to attract some low-paying jobs. (That isn’t the case, but everyone is entitled to an opinion.) The problem is that Michigan isn’t attracting ANY jobs right now. So should they just keep doing “more of the same” and hoping for a different outcome? They have been doing “more of the same” since 1972 and the oil crisis when people first started looking at those efficient Japanese cars. More of the same hasn’t worked out too well for Michigan.