LANSING, Mich. – Now that Michigan has become a right-to-work state, unions in this stronghold of organized labor confront a new and urgent problem: convincing members to continue paying for their services instead of taking them for free.
The Republican-controlled state government approved measures making it illegal to require that nonunion workers pay fees to unions for negotiating wage contracts and other services.
Union leaders said it was too soon to predict how the laws would affect their membership and recruiting, partly because workers covered by existing labor contracts won’t be able to stop paying union fees until those deals lapse. Contracts between unions and Detroit automakers, for example, are effective until September 2015.
Many of the activists who protested at the Capitol this week said they would continue supporting their unions but feared that some co-workers would abandon them. Unions are legally required to represent all employees of a business equally, whether they’re members or not.
“In our plant, it could pit worker against worker,” said Brett Brown, who works in the trim department at a General Motors plant in Lansing. Unions will lose money serving workers who refuse to contribute, making it harder for them to function, he said.
OPEC keeps daily crude output target the same
VIENNA – OPEC ministers agreed to keep their daily crude production target unchanged at a meeting Wednesday. But in a sign of internal rivalries, they failed to reach consensus on a new secretary general, a post sought by Saudi Arabia, Iran and resurgent oil-power Iraq.
The agreement to leave the production ceiling at 30 million barrels a day was expected. Actual output, however, is a million barrels higher because some countries produce above their limits.
The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries is expected to continue breaching the ceiling, despite a plentiful world supply of oil. Robust U.S. production and anemic world demand due to flagging economic growth have further contributed to pushing crude inventories unusually high.
OPEC predicts even less demand for its oil next year in part because of weak economic growth in consuming countries – something the organization said was the “biggest challenge facing global oil markets.”