In this July 31, 2012 file photo, an employee at the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tenn., works on a Passat sedan.
Erik Schelzig/AP Photo

Union-busting efforts move forward in Mississippi, Michigan

Updated
One of the reasons anti-labor forces fought so hard to prevail in February’s fight in Chattanooga was that they wanted to send a message: conservatives are prepared to fight against unionization wherever and whenever they can.
 
About a month later, the focus shifted from Tennessee to Mississippi, where an organizing drive has been underway at a Nissan plant, and where state policymakers acted quickly to advance a union-busting agenda.
Four bills that would restrict union organizing and protest and prevent local governments adopting union-friendly regulations in Mississippi are now headed to the governor. […]
 
Supporters said Mississippi needs new laws to pre-empt organized labor strong-arm tactics seen in other states that they say would hinder economic development. Opponents said Mississippi is one of the least unionized states and the laws are red herrings that are either already covered by federal law or would run afoul of it.
The bills, which passed largely along party lines, aren’t subtle. One would make it easier to get a court order to end picketing protestors at a business. Another says state municipalities would need the state’s permission before using unionized workers on a project.
 
A local report noted that another one of the bills “would make it illegal to coerce a business into staying neutral in a union drive or to allow workers to choose union representation by signing cards instead of by secret ballot. It’s not clear what would constitute coercion, but businesses could sue anyone they believed engaged in it.”
 
All of the measures are expected to be signed into law by Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant (R).
 
Of course, it’s not just Mississippi.
 
My colleague Laura Conaway flagged a separate anti-union measure pending in Michigan.
Republicans on the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Higher Education included language in an appropriations bill they voted out of committee last week which will strip Michigan State University of a half million dollars in annual funding if they continue to offer a training program for members of a variety of building trades unions. The legislation strips the funding if they offer any course which includes “participating with any business or union, or group of businesses or unions, in hosting, sponsoring, administering, or in any way facilitating an academy, seminar, class, course, conference, or program that provides instruction, in whole or in part, in techniques for encouraging or discouraging employees in regard to union organizing.”
 
The penalty for each violation of the provision would be a $500,000 reduction in a university’s state appropriation.
 

Labor, Michigan and Mississippi

Union-busting efforts move forward in Mississippi, Michigan

Updated