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Union members at Indiana statehouse protesting anti-union bill.
No surprise here: Having made big anti-union strides in Michigan this week, Republicans are hoping to repeat the trick by passing so-called "right to work" laws in a series of other states. What's not to love in a law that weakens unions and reduces average wages by $1,500 a year?
“I support this goal on the national and state level and look forward to Kentucky joining Michigan in the near future,” Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said in a statement.

Even in blue New Jersey, a major backer of right-to-work bills said the shift this week in Lansing had changed some minds.

“I think that what happened in Michigan sent a signal that people in states with histories of strong unions are now open to a new perspective,” said state Assemblywoman Amy H. Handlin (R).

Kentucky? Maybe. But New Jersey's Handlin is ignoring the fact that in several states we've seen a few Republicans voting against these bills. In Michigan, six House Republicans and four Senate Republicans voted no. That's why Michigan Republican leadership had to push the law now, in the lame duck session—because, come January, even though Democrats only gained five seats in the state House and will still be in a 59 to 51 minority, the votes wouldn't have been there. In New Hampshire in 2011, Republicans had the votes to override many of Democratic Gov. John Lynch's vetoes, but not this one, despite Republican leadership engaging in serious arm-twisting of the Republicans voting no. All of which is to say, even under Gov. Chris Christie, New Jersey is seriously unlikely to take this route in the near future.

Even as weakening unions by forcing them to provide representation to people who don't pay their fair share of the direct costs of representation is a top Republican priority, it remains something a noticeable number of Republican legislators oppose, despite threats from their leadership and their party's biggest donors. Even in the immediate wake of the 2010 election that gave Republicans majorities in so many state legislatures, Indiana was the only state to pass this law. Michigan Republicans only dared it during their lame duck session, with many members of the House on their way out by January and many members of both chambers term-limited so that they won't face voters in 2014. So, as Workers' Voice spokesman Eddie Vale tells the Washington Post, "There still will be state battles, but I think that we’re getting to the end of the 2010 tea-party wave rather than a resurgence of them."

Passing any law they can that will weaken unions and workers remains a top priority of Republicans nationally, and they'll keep trying. They may have some successes, and as Indiana and Michigan join the race to the bottom for wages and working conditions and unions in those states are weakened, the cause of workers nationally is weakened. So it's not that the outlook in the wake of Michigan is good. But "we're gonna sweep the nation" Republican triumphalism is a bit premature.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Thu Dec 13, 2012 at 07:27 AM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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