A couple of weeks ago, the Union Conservatives, a group of U.A.W. workers lead by Terry Bowman, hosted the Workplace Freedom Celebration to commemorate the inaugural day of Right-to-Work (“RTW”) in Michigan. It was truly a special kickoff for RTW in a state known for being the union capital of the world. It was particularly special since the grassroots effort to pass RTW in Michigan came, not from politicians or from the the business community, but rather from U.A.W. members. These were members who were tired of labor boss intimidation and the misuse of membership dues for political purposes, not supported by its membership. It was a spectacle to behold, and brilliantly orchestrated by Terry and his courageous group of fellow U.A.W. members.
I was privileged and honored, to be included as a speaker along with two brilliant headliners, President of The National Right To Work Committee, Mark Mix, and Director of Labor Policy at The Mackinac Center for Public Policy, Vinnie Vernuccio. As I listened to the opening remarks from Terry Bowman and the presentation of awards to those that made this moment in history possible, I could not help but reflect on the passage of RTW in my home state of Indiana approximately a year earlier and how two very similar bills had such dissimilar origins (click here to see photos from the event).
In Indiana, the grassroots effort and groundswell for RTW originated in the business and political communities. Indiana Representative Jerry Torr, a businessman in his own right, started the process back in 2007 by introducing a RTW Bill and finally saw it come to fruition in February of 2012, with the support of the Indiana House led by Speaker Brian Bosma, the Indiana Senate led by Pro Tem David Long, and the strong backing of then Governor Mitch Daniels. I have been blessed to meet and be associated with these truly courageous and great men who led Indiana to being the 23rd RTW State and the first in over ten years to pass such a measure. Passage of RTW was truly historical and a great leap forward for the protection and basic freedoms of employees and citizens of the great state of Indiana. Even more important, it awoke a sleeping giant that will hopefully become a tidal wave of “worker freedom” across the country.
As special as the passage of RTW was in Indiana, the dawn of RTW in Michigan is even more significant, as union members themselves started the ball rolling. I first became aware of the Union Conservatives in the Spring of 2012. They were aware of my company’s fight against the SEIU and of my stand against Big Labor intimidation of employees/employers and the misuse of membership dues all designed to achieve its political goals and rebuild its plummeting membership. They invited me to speak with them at a press conference on the steps of the State Capitol in Lansing, Michigan on March 29th, 2012 in support of a RTW Bill for the protection of Michigan employees. I gratefully accepted and was honored to be among the union employees who spoke before the press and cameras that day. Despite the fact these brave union members gave wonderful speeches there was little coverage of the event in the local media. Furthermore, to my knowledge there was absolutely no coverage by the national media. The liberal press failed to realize that these brave young men would be the grassroots movement to convince the Michigan legislature to pass RTW in the Big Labor capitol of the world.
Almost exactly one year later, on March 28th, 2013, I was proud to be included in this groups’ victory celebration. As I spoke that evening, telling my story of the SEIU’s forced unionism Corporate Campaign against my employees and my subsequent involvement in passage of RTW in Indiana, I felt compelled to congratulate them on a movement that succeeded, after employees woke up to labor boss abuses. I mentioned that I was encouraged that more and more of these grassroots movements were developing across the country, in states like Wisconsin, Missouri and even California.
It was an emotional moment to stand on the stage and state my firm belief that Americans at all levels are finally waking up to the goals of the Big Labor bosses and their political allies. More specifically, that people are beginning to realize that Big Labor leadership and their political allies share a goal to undermine capitalism and the Christian values our founding fathers so thoughtfully enshrined in the Constitution. In fact, this was the high point of my presence on stage, as the audience erupted into applause when I stated that Right to Work: Is A Basic American Freedom that is finally being recognized by Americans at all levels, and Michigan should be proud of its role.
Michigan is the beginning of a grassroots employee movement across the country to achieve employee rights and freedom not just from oppressive employers, but even more so from oppressive labor bosses and a supportive government. Congratulations Union Conservatives and Happy Michigan Right to Work Day.
David A. Bego is the President and CEO of EMS, an industry leader in the field of environmental workplace maintenance, employing nearly 5000 workers in thirty-three states. Bego is the author of “The Devil at My Doorstep,” as well as the just released sequel, “The Devil at Our Doorstep,” based on his experiences fighting back against one of the most powerful unions in existence today.