By Steve Gunn

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – The Grand Rapids Press, like many newspapers across Michigan, should be credited with taking an editorial stand against Proposal 2, the wrongheaded union power grab that failed at the polls on Tuesday.

But now the Press is trying to solicit a promise from Gov. Rick Snyder to reject any effort to pass a right to work law. What gives?

The state’s unions, particularly those in the public sector, wanted to put themselves above the law by enshrining collective bargaining privileges in the state constitution. They shaped the ballot proposal to avoid the type of state regulation that public sector unions are experiencing in Wisconsin and several other states.

But voters saw through this attempt to put union power out above the law. They recognized that they would be giving public sector unions special permission to squeeze the financial life out of struggling school districts and municipalities through high pressure collective bargaining tactics, and the state would have been powerless to react.

That foolish idea is now thankfully behind us.

But some Republicans in the state legislature interpreted the election results as a repudiation of union orthodoxy and announced that they will probably pursue right to work legislation. If such a measure passed, joining the union in any particular workplace would not be a condition of employment.

What could possibly be wrong with that?

Well, the Press wrote that Gov. Snyder should “boldly pronounce that he doesn’t want to see right-to-work legislation on his desk. And he should say that if such a bill does appear, he will veto it.”

The editorial goes on to say that “organized labor is a significant part of Michigan’s history. Michigan has come back too far under Gov. Snyder to stumble into painful and divisive battles. Let our national image be one where sides can work together.”

That’s all fine and dandy, but is the Press really defending laws that force people to join organizations they don’t want to join, just to get a job?

Nobody is saying that unions should be banned or ignored. Nobody is suggesting that government should refuse to work with them whenever necessary.

But laws forcing people to join and pay dues to labor unions smacks of totalitarianism. This is America. Shouldn’t citizens have the right to freely associate, or not associate, as they choose?

Unions can still collectively bargain even if a few employees choose not to join. If more than a few choose not to join, perhaps there isn’t much popular will to have a union in the first place. If that’s the case, why would the state force employees to have one?

If unions can’t attract enough voluntary members to remain viable, that’s their problem, not ours. We should not have to sacrifice our basic freedoms to guarantee the future of collective bargaining and the bloated incomes of Big Labor leaders.

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