In a December 12, 2012 USA Today opinion piece, Tom Walsh, a business writer for the Detroit Free Press, suggests that the ongoing debate between “right-to-work” and labor union advocates in Michigan is unproductive because it is based on data that is too inconclusive to support either position.
According to Walsh, Michigan’s recently passed “right-to-work” legislation “will not trigger a stampede of companies rushing into Michigan to invest and create jobs….Nor, however, is right-to-work some heinous abrogation of human rights that will be a death knell for labor unions.”
Walsh characterizes this debate as nothing more than “bare-knuckle politics,” and suggests that both sides need to focus on improving Detroit’s pool of educated and skilled labor because “in today’s world of unprecedented mobility and instant communication, investment and jobs go to places with the top talent, the best educated and most skilled workers.”
Walsh is likely correct in his assessment that much of the rhetoric is “bare-knuckle politics” (i.e. looking for ways to improve one’s political party chances in the next election cycle more than looking for ways to address the issue).
Yet, both sides likely think that enacting or defeating “right to work” legislation is the best means to encourage the best and brightest to live and work in Detroit and across the state of Michigan. Therein lies the dilemma–while election-cycle politics is at work here, it is informed and encouraged by deeply held ideologies that are hard to loose.
The full-text of Walsh’s column can be found here: http://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2012/12/12/right-to-work-michigan-controversy/1764617/