LANSING, Mich — Hundreds of union workers are packing the state capitol in Lansing Thursday to protest Michigan possibly becoming a right-to-work state. Right-to-work means that workers would not be required to join a union or pay dues as a condition of employment.
“If they pass right-to-work, they’re going to do away with our standard of living,” said Alex Zurek, a contractor with Michigan Labors.
The thought of what could happen if Michigan becomes the 24th state to pass right-to-work brought Zurek and many of his coworkers to the lawn of the State Capitol Building. Zurek and many of his fellow union workers are fighting to keep the benefits they say they have worked so long and hard for.
“At the end of the day, our guys beat themselves up,” said Zurek. “When they’re 60 years old, they have hip problems, shoulder problems and need to retire. If they don’t have a union or pension plan, they won’t be able to do it.”
Zurek believes right-to-work is just wrong.
“The way I see it, it would be just like the state saying, if you don’t agree with state taxes, then you don’t have to pay taxes. Same difference.”
Zurek is not only fighting for what he believes is in the best interest of his career, but what is best for his family’s future.
“I have a 16 and 14 year old. I’m scared for their future. What’s the choice? Move?”
Union workers say if Michigan does become a right-to-work state, it could affect the local economy. For instance, non-union workers could potentially earn less money than a union worker. Less income could mean less spending to help stimulate the economy.