As legislative fights over the rights and benefits of public sector employees continue in Wisconsin, Ohio and Indiana, some are calling this a watershed moment for Big Labor.
Historically, the Great Lakes states have been a bedrock of the labor movement - going all the way back to the labor struggles of the late 19th century. But as more midwestern states and taxpayers find themselves strapped for cash, unions are coming under fire.
And the conversation is not just about pensions and health care benefits. It also includes curbing or eliminating collective bargaining rights.
That's raising an even bigger question: Should the Great Lakes states should follow the lead of their Southern counterparts and adopt expanded Right-to-Work laws?
That's just one of the questions at the heart of the Changing Gears live special Tuesday at 1pm CT called "Hard Labor".
We're talking with a range of experts about the current battles - and their possible implications for organized labor in the industrial Midwest.
Do unions have too much influence? Not enough? And what role should unions play in the economic future of our region?
Click on the audio icon at the top of the page to hear the special broadcast.
Changing Gears is an editorial project by WBEZ Chicago, Michigan Radio, and Ideastream in Cleveland exploring the future of the industrial Midwest.