Sunday, December 30, 2007

Mike Bishop's Priority for 2008: Right to Work (for Less!)

Andy Dillon, at the House Dems end-of-year press conference, uttered a quote worth repeating here.

"It's the difference between the two parties," Dillon said. "I look at the Republican Party in the state of Michigan and I don't know what they want to do to fix our state's economy. I know they want to lower taxes and cut funding of services, but where's the vision? Where's the plan to turn this state around? I don't see it."

We have wondered about that too. After hearing the words "not a priority" over and over again concerning legislation that would make Michigan a better place to live, work and play, it sure looked like the Republican "vision" was to simply obstruct progress while endlessly complaining about the state of our state.

Fortunately the fine folks at MIRS sat down with Mike this past week and got him to tell us just what he sees as the number one issue facing Michigan's economy- turns out it's you, pesky Michigan worker.

MIRS asked Bishop what one piece of legislation he'd like to get through the Senate and signed into law in 2008?

At the top of his wish list: Right to Work.

Of course this would never make it through the House, Bishop knows that, but chasing futile, hot- button legislation sure would be a great time killer so areas of potential bipartisan cooperation on other issues can be ignored. See how that works? But, hey, Mike will tell you that he is just looking out for you.

Still, Bishop sees RTW as essential to Michigan's economic future and he intends to push legislation even if there's pushback. To not embrace reforms is to continue the "state of denial," he said.

"I happen to think that the Right to Work issue is an important one for the state," he said. "I think it's a key element for our state's recovery … because I don't think any worker should have to be required to pay union dues. I just don't think that's a fair exchange. I think it sends a bad message to all of our workers in the state and it sends a bad message to employers who want to come into our state that the employment environment here isn't healthy."

So, to sum it up, Bishop intends to continue to be a bad-news ambassador for Michigan while pursuing legislation that would lower the quality of life for Michigan workers that has no chance of passing anyway. But he isn't starting a war; he's just keeping those union folks busy so they will be distracted during an election year.

"We have a number of displaced workers in our state and highly skilled displaced workers and we'd like to bring jobs back to the state for them. And I don't necessarily want to start a war — I don't want to start a war, period — with those workers and I'd like to figure out a way we can open up that dialogue."

In the end, he contends RTW will send a powerful message that Michigan has changed and is a good place to do business.

"I think the key for me and my caucus is we want to come up with public policy that sends a message to the rest of the world that Michigan is a great place to come and raise a family and work and play," Bishop said.

Kind of hard to do that without decent wages and benefits, but Bishop doesn't let a little thing like facts about conditions in right to work states get in the way of his agenda.

At least we have finally discovered what Mike's priority is- but maybe we knew it all along.