• Dec 8th 2012 at 3:00PM
  • 491
There is no state in the union as thick with union politics as Michigan. Not even Wisconsin where Governor Scott Brown was subject to a recall election last year after trying to bust public employee unions. But Michigan's Governor is close to jamming the most anti-union law in the state's history into law this week without debate.

The issue was urgent enough to warrant a visit from President Obama, who flew in Monday afternoon and spoke at the Daimler Detroit Diesel plant in Redford, Mich. Obama praised union workers for helping save the auto industry. And he said right to work laws won't help the middle class.

"These so-called 'right to work' laws, they don't have to do with economics; they have everything to do with politics," Obama said. "What they're really talking about is giving you the right to work for less money."

Right to work laws let any employee who works in business that is unionized refuse to join the union or pay union dues. The laws erode the power of the unions by draining resources. Michigan would become the 24th state in the U.S. with right-to-work laws.

Michigan is home to the United Auto Workers, and the union is at war with Republican Governor Rick Snyder and the state legislature over plans to pass a right-to-work law in the state.

As state legislators, lobbyists and labor advocates debated the issue Thursday amidst union protests, eight people were arrested for resisting and obstructing a police officer as the protesters were trying to push passed police to get onto the Senate floor. More than fifty state police cars and units were deployed to the protest areas in the capitol city of Lansing. Police arrested several protesters and sprayed mace into the crowd when they tried to rush the Senate floor.

Conservatives and Republicans resent the political spending that organized labor unions spend on mostly Democratic candidates. Unions counter that unionized workplaces such as construction sites and auto plants achieve pay and benefit standards, workplace safety and training, and that it is wrong for workers to be hired who don't have to support those efforts.

Police and fire-fighters are excluded from the bill, in part because their opposition to such laws in other states have led to right-to-work laws being overturned.

Obama called the right-to-work initiative part of the "race to the bottom."

"America is not going to compete based on low-skill, low-wage, no workers' rights. That's not our competitive advantage," he said. "There's always going to be some other country that can treat its workers even worse."

The Michigan legislature is expected to take up the vote again Tuesday, and union organizers and protesters are expected to jam the capitol city. Geoff Kish, a union pipefitter from Davison, Michigan told The Detroit Free Press that he worked alongside nonunion tradespeople in the right-to-work state of Louisiana and believes if the change is approved, "it will drive down wages, benefits and the standard of living in Michigan."

Former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm, a Democrat and CurrenTV host, said on her show: "Right-to-work bills will basically eviscerate workers' ability to organize together and bargain for better wages or working conditions."

Snyder, on Fox TV, countered: "It's really about freedom to choose," he said. "It's about sticking up for the workers in our state. We need workplace equality and fairness, and that's what this legislation is about."

The bill was introduced during a lame-duck session and Snyder said he plans to sign it after it is "fast-tracked." The legislation passed both houses of the state legislature with absolutely no hearings and no public debate, and Snyder could sign it as quickly as Tuesday. The move is happening in a lame-duck session because the new legislature arriving next month has smaller Republican majorities.

Republicans have also attached the legislation to an appropriations bill so that it can't be overturned later by state referendum, as happened with the Ohio right-to-work law Ohio Governor Kasich signed last year that sharply restricted collective bargaining rights for public employees.

Democrats in Michigan believe that Republicans are jamming an unpopular agenda as their power weakens heading into the next election, and that the measure could even lead to violence in the big union state. "I am adamantly opposed to this," Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano, told the Free Press. "I think it's a disaster for the state. I think it's shortsighted and vindictive. The state is going to be in a civil war for the next year." State workers in Lansing, especially those working for Republicans were advised by email to not walk the street or to their cars alone.

Snyder, a former venture capitalist who rode to the Governor's mansion in 2010 in the Tea-Party wave, suffered an embarrassing defeat at the polls last month when Michiganders over-turned his "emergency manager" law (which allows for municipal union contracts to be broken when a city faces financial calamity) by referendum.

Ford Motor Co. chairman Bill Ford was outspoken in his support of Snyder in 2010, unusual for Ford. It's a move that could come back to haunt the auto industry scion who has always had a good relationship with the unions.

Snyder claims he is moving fast against the unions because neighboring Indiana passed a similar law and he fears losing jobs to the Hoosier state.

If Snyder follows through signing the law, the 2014 Gubernatorial campaign, and the elections for state and assembly positions could become a bloodbath, with unions spending enormous sums on advertising and get-out-the-vote efforts to defeat Republicans. A Democratic Governor and legislature would surely move to repeal the law.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 2 Years Ago
      Just like the old days Union goons showing their muscle If I decide I don't want a union representing me I should have that right just as those who want representation do. I am a retired Teamster and have not liked the idea that thay have always thrown our union dues into the liberal party. Stay out of politics that is what has happened to this country too many politicians with their hands out and union power brokers at the ready to fill them.
      • 2 Years Ago
      As I recall, the Union opinion favored "Right to Work" , while the company line reviled it.
      • 2 Years Ago
      As of April 12, 2012 the union population in Michigan is only 26.%. Don't let the media tell you any different.
      • 2 Years Ago
      "Conservatives and Republicans resent the political spending that organized labor unions spend on mostly Democratic candidates. Unions counter that unionized workplaces such as construction sites and auto plants achieve pay and benefit standards, workplace safety and training, and that it is wrong for workers to be hired who don't have to support those efforts. Police and fire-fighters are excluded from the bill, in part because their opposition to such laws in other states have led to right-to-work laws being overturned." It's nice to see the showing of solidairity by the UNION brothers and sisters in law enforcement and the firefighters. See if you get any support when they want to stick a big shaft up your ....................
      • 2 Years Ago
      I`m totally shocked that a Republican would want to drive down wages,benefits and the standard of living on the middle class in Michigan or anywhere else for that matter....FOX NEWS " it`s really about freedom to chose" ( LMAO ) !...Where was your freedom to chose FOX when you guys tried to surpress voters in the last election ?...It`s all about the "the big R" way,keep stuffing the fat cats pockets with more and more money !
      • 2 Years Ago
      "Obama praised union workers for helping save the auto industry. And he said right to work laws won't help the middle class." Um, the usually overinflated union wages have contributed to the fall of the US auto industry. And reasonable wage rates lead to the ability to add employees, meaning much needed jobs!! I worked for 23 years in a non-unon shop and we had better than economy-proportional wages and benefits, as well as perks union shops only WSH they had! When business was good [as it usually was], we all shared the good, and when not [which was rare until the collapse of '08] we ALL shared the burden. THAT'S what makes a business work!
      • 2 Years Ago
      Obama calls Right to Work Law as being about politics? Then what would you call his interference?
      • 2 Years Ago
      Ahhh the good old unions. I winder how the 18,000 put out of work by the Teamsters would vote? now we all have to go without wonder bread and twinkies.
      • 2 Years Ago
      Big businesses can raise the price of necessities independent of supply and demand, and workers can't have unions fighting for fair pay. When there's and oil spill in the Gulf, oil companies merely raise the price of gasoline to consumers to pay for the clean up and lost revenue. When CEOs make upwards of $65,000 PER HOUR and stakeholders upwards of $300,000 PER HOUR workers won't have the unions fighting for fair pay and benefits being reduced due to excesses of CEOs and Stakeholders. Republicans rollover 100% for big businesses at the expense of the average Joe/Josephine. When you vote for a Republican, this is what you get. When you voted because the Republican claims to be against abortion and gay rights that was the smoke. The real fire for Republicans is taking income and benefits away from workers so the elite can make more money. Michigan, congratulations for voting against your best interest.
      • 2 Years Ago
      IT IS NONE OF bammas business !!!! WHY is he out giving speaches INSTEAD OF HELPING AVERT ECONOMIC DISASTER???? HAY... bamma its the spending st**id.
      • 2 Years Ago
      Sadly the President is talkin ignorance. As a female union member, in another state, I could give him example after example of how this is as much about "choice" and freedom, as a womans right to choose birth control or abortion. In a right to work State, you still have collective bargaining and millions of local, State and Federal Law to protect the worker. If the union passes a majority vote for some stupid or valid deduction such as a retire healthcare trust fund for say a early retiree disability benefit. As a example, the non member has to pay for that through a mandatory deduction just as the member who pays dues. So, this argument of union members that "why should you get the benefits from my union dues" is a false argument, because in a Collective Bargaining unit, every employee pays the price of the contract as well as getting the benefits, regardless of whether they pay dues or not. In fact, the member is often paying for lawyers for the terrible or non productive or disciplinary problem, over and over, just because the unions all will tell you they "have to represent everyone equally". True. But many public and private company workers don't like paying for lawyers for career criminals and massive appeals for horrendous crimes through more taxes, any more than they like paying dues for teachers, machinists, clerks and auto workers who constantly drink, smoke dope, fight, and generally do a lousy job day in and day out, but who have a job and benefits because the lawyers and "unions" have to continually hire lawyers to defend and repeat defend the squeaky wheels. Think teachers (public) in NY and CHicago who never work due to the inability of companies or schools to fire them. Think auto workers drinking at Chysler who just got their jobs back after half a year of legal and contractual and management progressive contractual, local and federal law! Right to work means just that, you choose whether you want or can afford some of the rediculous union dues, that you may never have to use. Most do out of loyalty or tradition. But the truth is many single mothers and fathers do decide at some points to drop union dues because of tight take home pay budgets and all the taxes and deductions that rob us of basic needs without government support! That is the problem with Michigan and many other States citizens, neither the citizens, workers nor politicians know the evolution of LAW in protecting workers, nor the difference and variance Throughout the 50 States and within the thousands of contracts etc. I want the choice to find the job, obtain the job and to work to keep the job. I don't want to be forced to pay dues or vote in a open ballot. That is part of the problem with Mexico. We are evolving down not up if we keep caving to the special interests without considering our own personal knowledge and budgets and work ethics.
      • 2 Years Ago
      Alexander. if you think Carl`s blog is surprising... last saturday I bought themselves a Maserati after earning $6905 this-last/five weeks and-more than, 10k lass month. it's certainly the nicest-work Ive ever done. I started this 7-months ago and almost immediately started to bring in at least $71... per/hr. I went to this site, Great60.com
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