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Clinton Township

Local reps weigh in on right-to-work

December 17, 2012

LANSING — Though right-to-work legislation was passed and signed into law, the state representatives who represent Clinton Township and Fraser cast their votes against the legislation.

State Rep. Ken Goike, R-Ray Township, who represents a portion of Clinton Township along with Macomb and Ray townships, was one of six House Republicans to vote against the right-to-work bill.

“This, for me, was the toughest vote since I’ve been (a state representative),” said Goike, who is closing out his first two-year term. “There were so many emotions on both sides of this issue.”

Right-to-work ultimately passed the House with a 58-52 vote. Gov. Rick Snyder signed the legislation into law on Dec. 11.

For Goike, who has been re-elected to a second term, the vote on right-to-work ultimately came down to how his district would have voted, he said. Out of all the correspondence he received from his constituents, the result was “10-to-1” opposed to right-to-work, he added.

But he would have rather seen the issue be decided with a public vote.

“I had to step up to the plate and vote the way the district wanted me to vote,” he said.

To those who might disagree with his vote on right-to-work, Goike said he hopes they look at his overall voting record, which includes voting against film industry tax credits, voting for streamlining of environmental permitting process and voting for a 48-month limit on welfare benefits.

Proponents of right-to-work have said the move would bring more jobs to Michigan.

They also say the move now gives workers the freedom to choose whether their money goes to a union or not. The move, advocates say, will make unions present the case for their value, and if workers don’t see the value in joining, they won’t have to.

However, state Rep. Marilyn Lane, D-Fraser, said right-to-work would “disenfranchise” workers and divide Lansing, but the main issue the former Fraser mayor had with the legislation was the manner in which it was passed.

“This was not transparent,” said Lane, who represents Fraser and most of Clinton Township in the Michigan House of Representatives. No Legislature, she added, should take up a bill “this important to Michigan, this important to the labor structure, while in a lame-duck, closed-door session.”

The bills were introduced without committee hearings and without public testimony.

Lane said during her two years in the state Legislature, no other piece of legislation has come through in such a fashion.

Some advocates have defended the process by saying that the debate about right-to-work is nothing new, having been discussed in Michigan for decades.

“This will clearly create a divisive atmosphere, and it’s going to disenfranchise our labor pool,” Lane said.

And, of Snyder’s oft-used phrase “relentless positive action,” the representative said, “I guess those words didn’t mean anything. I guess those words were empty.

“When (Snyder) continued to say he has no interest in (right-to-work), I took him at his word.”

Like Goike, state Rep. Anthony Forlini, R-Harrison Township, voted against the bill but said he would have rather seen the issue put to a public vote.

“The bottom line is, I voted my district,” he said.

Forlini currently represents Harrison Township and St. Clair Shores, but after redistricting takes effect in 2013, his district will include a portion of Clinton Township.

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