Michigan

D-Day for Right-to-Work in Michigan

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Today might be D-day for the Right-to-Work battle in Michigan. Emboldened by the defeat of the union-backed Protect Our Jobs constitutional initiative that would have forever banned Michigan from going RTW, Michigan Republicans – who control all the branches of government: legislature, governorship and the Supreme Court – are

labor.unions

planning to introduce two bills that will no longer require public and private sector employees to pay mandatory dues as a condition of employment in union shops. Governor Rich Snyder, who had previously said that he would sign such bills if they come to his desk, is between a rock and a hard place now. All of last week, he pleaded with his fellow Republicans to drop their crusade. He seems to have failed. His official reason is that Michigan needs tax and regulatory reform first to bring its economy back on track ­– not a divisive RTW battle. The unofficial reason is that he is a self-avowed "nerd" who lacks Scott Walker's testosterone to take on the unions.

And take on the unions he will have to.

In a taste of things to come, The Detroit News reported:

Anticipation of the controversial bill's introduction boiled over as several hundred union protesters filled the Capitol, and Senate Democrats briefly demanded bills be read in full — a filibuster-like tactic used to stall the swift passage of legislation. That prompted Senate leaders to lock down the chamber and prohibit anyone — senators, staff, media and onlookers — from coming or going.

No bill was introduced Wednesday.

Protests are expected to resume today and that may keep some right-to-work supporters home.

"It's intimidating to people," said Scott Hagerstrom, state director of the Michigan chapter of Americans for Prosperity, which has brought conservative activists to the Capitol this week. "They don't want a confrontation at all."

Meanwhile, a group in support of a right-to-work law has launched a statewide radio and TV advertising blitz in a bid to sway public opinion on legislation that would outlaw the practice of requiring employees to pay unions a fee as a condition of employment in workplaces governed by collective bargaining agreements.

Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer vowed to invoke political and procedural maneuvers to derail other bills and make life under the dome "as difficult as possible" if the GOP pursues right-to-work legislation.

"If they declare war on the middle class … no one should be surprised if the whole environment at the Capitol changes," said Whitmer, D-East Lansing.

Incidentally, the Michigan Chamber of Commerce, which had prior to Protect Our Jobs, refused to take a position on Michigan becoming RTW has now come out four square for it. And Snyder, a former businessman himself, can hardly ignore them.

My own hunch? Right to Work is to Michigan Republicans now what ObamaCare was to Congressional Democrats three years ago. They regard this as the single biggest step that the state needs to take to break the chokehold of unions and bring manufacturers back to the state. (Not a single foreign automaker, with the exception of a Mazda plant in Flat Rock that later got bought by Ford, has ever opened a factory in Michigan even though its highly trained auto workforce, one would think, gives it a natural advantage.) If Michigan joins Indiana and many of its southern competitors in becoming an RTW state, it will give an instant shot in the arm to its moribund economy. And the political stars are never going to be aligned better so they'll be damned if they don't get it done. So, I think, Snyder is going to continue to press them to back off – and they are going to continue to refuse. And ultimately he'll have to go along or completely lose credibility in the party.

In any case, stay tuned because things are going to be very interesting for the rest of this not-so-lame duck session.

For a terrific account of the drama playing out in Lansing, read Washington Examiner's Sean Higgins' story.

My own previous columns on what RTW would do for Michigan's economy here and here.

Update: Republicans have called a press conference for 11 am Eastern, presumably to lay out their next steps.

Update II: Firedoglake is reporting that the vote on the legislation, which will unveiled by Republicans with Snyder in tow shortly, might happen today!

Update III: Unions are apoplectic that Gov. Snyder is justifying his support for RTW now on grounds that it will expand the freedom to work in Michigan. They counter that the bill is not so much about freedom to work as it is about "freedom to freeload." Why? Because unions will still have to represent the non-dues paying workers in collective bargaining negotiations. Allow me to point out that this is a bullshit argument for three reasons: (a) The only reason that freeloading is even a possibility is because unions have written their exclusive bargaining rights into law. If unions would give up their monoply over bargaining, individual workers would be able to negotiate on their own behalf or form alternative unions. (b) Many states actually require workers to pay some dues to cover the costs of bargaining and, if I were the unions, that's what I'd be trying to get right now rather than using up my political capital to stalling the entire legislation. (c) If the choice is between Big Labor freeloading off the pockets of workers and workers freeloading off the pocket of Big Labor, I'd take the latter any day.

Update IV: 1.50 pm Eastern: This just in from the Mackinac Center for Public Policy: Gov. Snyder and his fellow Republicans have announced that they will introduce in the legislature today a bill dubbed "The Workplace Fairness and Equity Act" to make Michigan the 24th Right-to-Work state in the Union. Notes the Mackinac release:

The move comes less than a year after Indiana became a right-to-work state. Since that time, the Hoosier State has added 43,300 jobs, while Michigan has lost 7,300. Indiana's manufacturing sector added 13,900 new jobs, while Michigan's lost 4,200. Nationally, the numbers are even more telling. Between 1980 and 2011, total employment in right-to-work states grew 71 percent, while employment in forced unionism states grew just 32 percent. Employment in Michigan grew just 14 percent during that same time. Inflation-adjusted compensation over the last decade grew 12 percent in right-to-work states, but just 3 percent in forced unionism states.

Update V, 3:06 pm Eastern: The USA Today is reporting that the police arrested several protesters and sprayed mace into the crowd in the state Capitol as lawmakers discussed right-to-work. Says the story:

The protesters were arrested as they tried to rush the Senate floor, said Michigan State Police Inspector Gene Adamczyk.

"When several of the individuals rushed the troopers, they used chemical munitions to disperse the crowd," he said. "It would be a lot worse if someone gets hurt and I failed to act."

Update VI, 4.57 pm Eastern: The Michigan House has passed the bill 58-52, although everything won't be wrapped up till next Tuesday, my sources tell me. Former New York Times auto reporter Micheline Maynard is tweeting that although the protests against the bill were intense, they were "nothing like days' worth in WI, IN or OH on collective bargaining." Partly, I believe, this is because of the speed with which things moved in the Wolverine State, leaving little time for the already war-weary unions to recoup and organize after their misguided battle for Prop 2.

Correction: The original post claimed that no foreign automaker had ever set up a factory in Michigan. Actually, Mazda did very brieflly buy and operate the Ford plant in Flat Rock before Ford rebought 50 percent of the plant. It operated as join venture until earlier this year when Mazda suspended all production on U.S. soil.

NEXT: Want Bill Clinton's Tax Rates? OK. Give Us His Spending As Well.

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  1. It’s a mushroom cloud made out of FISTS!

    1. They made a mushroom cloud out of Fist of Etiquette?

      1. It’s not like they had to try hard. He’s already kind of mushroomy.

        1. More like I’m clouded in awesomeness. And toads try to sit on me.

          1. And you’ve got a lot of fungus.

            1. Who’s Gus?

  2. If unions are so politically neutered unlike those evil conservative fatcats, why is it that anything that might negatively affect them results in large protests and national political attention?

    1. IIRC, less than 9% of the work force is union. Unions have been dying a slow death for a while now. The only reason they’ve still got pull is that they rob their members blind and they pretty much own the media.

      1. When I was in college, I worked for a grocery store as a cashier. The union (UFCW-951, I believe) had negotiated a contract in which workers received an additional quarter per hour for every 750 hours they worked. Then they sent out a newsletter telling us how much the economy had improved under Obama and to vote for him because he was going to protect American jobs.

        I hope they enjoyed my union dues.

        1. Wait, wait, wait, aren’t you the Dick Aftersexslime who only last week was bitching about living wages and had some cockamamie self-definition of what exactly constituted a “living wage?”

          1. What does a living wage have to do with corrupt unions?

            1. What does a living wage have to do with corrupt unions?

              Watch this and learn.

          2. He only bitches about living wages when the Messicans ‘take’ it away from him.

            1. He only bitches about living wages when Mexicans depress the wages of unskilled workers, pushing both groups into poverty and forcing them to rely on government aid.

              FTFY.

              1. So you bitch when something that never happens happens.

              2. Rick Santorum| 12.6.12 @ 11:27AM |#
                “He only bitches about living wages when Mexicans depress the wages of unskilled workers,…”

                What a lying sack of shit.

                1. Implying this doesn’t happen.

                  1. Rick Santorum| 12.7.12 @ 8:18AM |#
                    “Implying this doesn’t happen.”

                    Free markets, dipshit. If you can be replaced by someone who can do the same job for less, tough.

  3. I thought it was quite funny that the union lost that vote in November – especially after pouring a bunch of $$$ into it. And now a chance for right to work? ha!

    1. They lost after spending a shitload of cash? Unpossible! Liberals tell me that dollars correlate directly to votes.

      1. Unpossible! Liberals tell me that dollars correlate directly to votes.

        That only happens when Team RED wins. When Team BLUE wins, it’s because of purity of heart and nobleness of intention.

    2. I think RTW has been proposed at least twice before in MI, (pre-ballot proposal) but because of the makeup of the senators, etc before it was tabled before the vote.

  4. OK, how did the GOP get control of a true blue state? Pennsylvania is another state in the same situation. What gives with sending Our Glorious Leader to the White House and putting supposedly fiscal conservativesw in charge in their state?

    1. Hey, I live in Michigan and don’t get it either.

    2. One theory I heard is that the Presidential and Senate races draw the vast majority of the national media’s attention, and influence – where the race for a state rep or senator or such does not. When left to local reporting or little at all, the left leaning influence of the media does not distort races.

      I see that is logical, but I await further analysis and backup.

      1. LTC, you should know from yesterday that lefty media bias doesn’t exist unless its shown by rigorous, peer-reviewed statistical analysis.

        (I know, some guy, I know . . . .)

        1. Like This?:

          Our results show a strong liberal bias: all of the news outlets we examine, except Fox News’ Special Report and the Washington Times, received scores to the left of the average member of Congress. Consistent with claims made by conservative critics, CBS Evening News and the New York Times received scores far to the left of center.

          Groseclose, Tim, and Jeffrey Milyo. “A Measure of Media Bias.” Quarterly Journal of Economics 120.4 (2005): 1191-237.

      2. I’ve heard that theory and it does make sense. People know a little too much about local issues for the media to go into full propaganda mode. Plus, the local writers and talking heads tend to actually give a shit about what’s happening in their city and state, and that helps, too.

        1. Local media has to live and work with the people they report to, where as the national media has no such concern due to the safety of their distance from most of their audience.

          1. Kind of like Congress.

    3. OK, how did the GOP get control of a true blue state?

      It’s due to winner take all — take a look at the results for the congressional districts here:

      http://www.politico.com/2012-e…..se/2012/MI

      Democrats creamed Republicans around Detroit and Flint — over 80% of the vote in two Detroit districts. Everywhere else, Republicans won narrowly.

      This means that the state House and Senate could be won by squeaking out a lot of narrow wins, and losing big in a minority of races.

      Statewide is close enough that Republicans winning the governorship is possible with a RINO-ish candidate. I mean, deep Blue Hawaii, 90% Democrats in the legislature, recently had an ostensibly Republican RINO governor.

    4. Kind of throws a spanner into the narrative that America is now a wholly lost Dem nation.

      1. Yeah, well, those of us in CA aren’t smiling yet.

        1. We in CA are screwed buy the incompetent. corrupt and now broke state GOP. They still think campaigning for “traditional family values” like hating teh GaYz is a political winner. With the new top 2 system we’re more likely to see pro business/libertarian lite Democrats than any GOP candidates who are worth a shit.

          1. Our new, ‘non-politcal’, gerrymandering did wonders also.

  5. Not only do I live here, I work at a unionized shop, although we have an escape clause, so the equivalent of my dues goes to a university research fund instead (a small percentage of my colleagues have also opted out in a similar way).
    I could go on and on about my charming colleagues, the leaders of our union, but on the off chance that they might see this posting, I will remain silent.
    But it’s certainly going to be an interesting couple of weeks here in Michigan.
    Just as an additional piece of interest, you can read about how the Dems in Lansing are playing hardball:
    Article on front page of today’s Freep

    1. Just as an additional piece of interest, you can read about how the Dems in Lansing are playing hardball:

      Interesting hardball: “You want FN RTW? OK, then we Democrats are not gonna allow spending money on government-run trains operated by Democratic public worker union employees, trains that benefit Democratic constituents in Democratic Detroit!”

  6. Meanwhile the Michigan State Senate just agreed to an arena giveaway for the Red Wings.

    http://sports.yahoo.com/news/m…..–nhl.html

    1. And the NHL isn’t even playing at the moment.

      1. There’s still an NHL?

  7. Not a single foreign automaker has ever opened a factory in Michigan even though its highly trained auto workforce, one would think, gives it a natural advantage.

    I’m pretty sure the overwhelming majority of those job require a skill set which could be acquired by a chimpanzee of average intelligence in an afternoon.

    1. I’m pretty sure the overwhelming majority of those job require a skill set which could be acquired by a chimpanzee of average intelligence in an afternoon.

      Your average Detroit resident may require longer.

      1. I’m pretty sure this whole conversation is racist somehow.

        1. DOG WHISTLES

        2. Randian: we are libertarians?; every conversation we have is full of nothing but racist dog whistles.

  8. Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Michigan’s Idiot Southern Sisters are considering the loathsome “heartbeat bill” again.

    1. Is this the one that defines a human life to begin at the first heartbeat? I disagree (I go with brain function myself), but I wouldn’t call it loathsome.

    2. PLEASE KILL OUR BABIES GLORIOUS RANDIAN MASTER

      1. A fetus aint necessarily a baby to be killed. Depends on your perspective (like if the parasite is living off of YOUR body 🙂

        1. like if the parasite is living off of YOUR body

          Anyone who refers to a fetus as a parasite is a broken malcontent who ought to be exiled from society to prevent him from poisoning the well.

          1. Everyone is a parasite living off the body of Mother Gaia.

  9. Obviously the pros and cons of making Michigan a RTW state need to be weighed thoroughly, but there are certainly a number of advantages and opportunities that would come Michigan’s way should it make the move (http://bit.ly/Ad4S85). Furthermore, ending the practice of forced dues, especially in the public sector, would go a long way in reducing the corrosive influence that unions can create through extensive lobbying efforts (http://bit.ly/HcCfwK).

    1. Corrosive influence abhors a vacuum. Someone else will step in.

  10. What happened with Wisconsin’s union law?
    Is that still held up in the courts?

  11. Sometimes a chimpanzee is just an ape.

    1. So is a human.

  12. ” They counter that the bill is not so much about freedom to work as it is about “freedom to freeload.”…
    (a) The only reason that freeloading is even a possibility is because unions have written their exclusive bargaining rights into law. If unions would give up their monoply over bargaining, individual workers would be able to negotiate on their own behalf or form alternative unions. ”

    Then the Governor should offer follow up legislation to remove this monopoly over bargaining which the unions find so onerous.

  13. Nice blowback for the unions trying to pass the batshit crazy Prop 2, which would have given unions a de facto veto over the legislature, and on which even the dependably liberal Detroit Free Press recommended a “no” vote..

    Snyder had been perfectly happy to leave RTW off the table, and now he’s effectively forced to join his party in ramming this through. I’m reminded of the old saying “if you aim to kill the King, you’d better not miss.”

  14. My own hunch? Right to Work is to Michigan Republicans now what ObamaCare was to Congressional Democrats three years ago. They regard this as the single biggest step that the state needs to take to break the chokehold of unions and bring manufacturers back to the state. (Not a single foreign automaker, with the exception of a Mazda plant in Flat Rock that later got bought by Ford, has ever opened a factory in Michigan even though its highly trained auto workforce, one would think, gives it a natural advantage.) If Michigan joins Indiana and many of its http://www.chaussuresfree.com/…..-c-31.html southern competitors in becoming an RTW state, it will give an instant shot in the arm to its moribund economy. And the political stars are never going to be aligned better so they’ll be damned if they don’t get it done. So, I think, Snyder is going to continue to press them to back off ? and they are going to continue to refuse. And ultimately he’ll have to go along or completely lose credibility in the party.

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