Tuesday, under the nose of second-term, pro-union U.S. President Barack Obama, Michigan, the historic cradle of union activism, became the 24th right-to-work state in the U.S.
Michigan, genesis of the UAW and the nation's organized labor movement, is the second state this year, following Indiana’s break with unions in February, to legislate "open shop" policies.
The new law means that individuals have the right to work for any company they choose without being forced to join a union or pay union dues.
By the same token, the law is likely to cut into the state’s already declining union membership by double digits which will cut into the political budget of unions that generously and enthusiastically support Democrat candidates.
As late as November, unions spent tens of millions of dollars campaigning for Proposal 2, a ballot initiative that would have written collective bargaining into the state constitution thereby outlawing any right-to-work law or limit on union power. Michigan voters defeated that union initiative in a 58 to 42 percent landslide.
In predictable fashion, thousands of union workers stormed the capital building in Lansing to protest as teachers walked out of schools depriving children from their educations. Democratic state senators even walked out during sessions and State Representative Douglas Geiss threatened from the floor of the Michigan House of Representatives “there will be blood” in the streets.
Despite presidential posturing and public protests, Democratic allies will be forced to change from a "closed shop" mentality to a literal right-to-work state – a severe blow to Michigan's heavily entrenched union interests.
However even if the unions run short of cash to pay for Democratic campaigns, the new law of the land, signed into law by Republican Governor Rick Snyder on Tuesday, may signal good news for the people of Michigan.
For example CNBC's annual list of the best states for business shows nine of the top 10 states are right-to-work states. Foreign automobile manufacturers typically build new plants in right-to-work states like Tennessee and Alabama – not Detroit.
Now, manufacturing has one more reason to come to Michigan and one less reason to stay away. With unemployment at 9.3 percent, Michigan needs to increase manufacturing, and state representatives believe that the right-to-work law will level the economic playing field to benefit all workers, not just union workers and government employees.