Dissent contributors on Michigan’s right-to-work law: Colin Gordon looks at the faulty economics, Richard D. Kahlenberg and Moshe Z. Marvit tell the ugly racial history of the idea, and Michael Kazin reminds us why people would miss unions if they vanished.

Dissent contributors on the right-to-work law passed last week in Michigan:

In congratulating Michigan lawmakers, Mark Mix of the National Right to Work Committee claimed that the law promised to provide “significant economic benefits” and that right-to-work laws are “proven job creators.” The economic record is actually pretty clear—and offers no support whatsoever for such claims.

-“The Folly of ‘Right to Work’,” Colin Gordon

Unions have a powerful interest in reducing racial discrimination and animus because racial hostility inhibits worker solidarity and union organizing. Southern segregationists knew this, which is why they eagerly signed on to right-to-work efforts to weaken unions in the middle part of the twentieth century.

-“The Ugly Racial History of ‘Right to Work’,” Richard D. Kahlenberg and Moshe Z. Marvit

Laws such as the one enacted last week in Michigan aim to make existing unions too poor and powerless to affect conditions in all but a few workplaces. The very term “right to work” puts labor on the defensive in a culture which cherishes individual liberty.

-“A Voice for Workers,” Michael Kazin