MI Right to Ram Round-up

The reviews on MI GOP’s anti-union power-grab on Thursday are still coming in. And they’re mostly blisteringly critical, especially of the way the GOP rammed this through the legislature.

At MLive, Susan Demas argues it undermines the entire raison-d’etre of Snyder’s Administration.

In a single day last week, he did far more than flip-flop on RTW. Rick Snyder undid the entire premise of his governorship: government transparency, data-driven decisions and bipartisan cooperation.

No, governor, you don’t get to have it both ways anymore after you unfurl these words at a Thursday press conference:

“I’m asking that we pass an act that gives workers freedom in the workplace. When it arrives on my desk, I will sign it.”

You asked for it. You own it. It’s yours.


Now I’m sure Ricky and Republicans will be whining a lot in the months and years to come about how Democrats aren’t playing fair, whether it’s voting “no” on all bills, filing recalls against Republicans or going for a constitutional amendment.

Sorry, boys (and the very few girls on your side). You didn’t just give up the moral high ground. You obliterated it on Thursday by choosing a government process one would expect in the Soviet Union of old, not the modern-day USA.

Expecting moderate responses to radical actions is usually unwise.

The Free Press called bullshit on Snyder’s rationale.

Watching Snyder explain his right-to-work reversal was disturbing on several levels.

His insistence that the legislation was designed to promote the interests of unionized workers and “bring Michiganders together” was grotesquely disingenuous; even as he spoke, securitypersonnel were locking down the capital in anticipation of protests by angry unionists.

Snyder’s ostensible rationale for embracing right-to-work legislation — it was, he insisted, a matter of preserving workers’ freedom of association — was equally dishonest.

The real motive of Michigan’s right-to-work champions, as former GOP legislator Bill Ballenger ruefully observed, is “pure greed” — the determination to emasculate, once and for all, the Democratic Party’s most reliable source of financial and organizational support.

And the Livingston Daily (in SE MI’s conservative Ex-Urbs) decried the abuse of democracy.

Elected Republican officials in Lansing last week showed in breathtaking manner how little respect they have for the democratic process. In one of the Capitol’s most amazing days Thursday, the House and the Senate rushed through lame-duck legislation that will make Michigan a so-called right-to-work state.


But Republicans thumbed their noses at the quaint (to them) concept that voters matter. Right-to-work legislation was introduced and passed in a flick of an eye Thursday. No referral to committees, no meaningful debate, no hearings.

Who needs facts when you have a overwhelming majority?

If this was such important and fact-supported legislation, Republicans could have introduced it at any time in the last two years. But that would have made them put their cards on the table before the last election. They could have waited until January, when they would still have legislative majorities — albeit a slightly smaller edge in the House — and let the decision be made by the lawmakers most recently selected by the public.

But democratic procedure — as well as any pretense of factual argument — gets in the way of Republican lawmakers who are beholden to special interests and who are eager to stick it to labor unions. This was about punishment and revenge, not good public policy.

MI doesn’t have much of a newspaper culture left (thanks, in part, to union busting). But it is fairly remarkable how unified even papers from places like Holland and Livingston have been about the abusive way Republicans rammed this through.

The GOP will still vote it through on Tuesday. But by then they won’t be able to claim they had any moral authority to do so.

Marcy has been blogging full time since 2007. She’s known for her live-blogging of the Scooter Libby trial, her discovery of the number of times Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded, and generally for her weedy analysis of document dumps.

Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including the Guardian, Salon, and the Progressive, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial.

Marcy has a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she researched the “feuilleton,” a short conversational newspaper form that has proven important in times of heightened censorship. Before and after her time in academics, Marcy provided documentation consulting for corporations in the auto, tech, and energy industries. She lives with her spouse and dog in Grand Rapids, MI.

7 replies
  1. JohnLopresti says:

    Less government, weakened unions, especially Republican extirpations of unions from the political offices of government. These facets of union presence expanded in the 1970s; I remember quite a few excessively introsopective pronouncements by, for example, AFCSME, and SEIU, from that era., trying to explain to the public what kinds of subterfuges the politicians were prosecuting to repell the then-new entry of unions into government.

    Another thread I perceive now in the Republican effort to decrease economic viability of employees of government and industry as well, is something which very much resembles right-to-work regs in Dixie.

    Then, too, there are the lawsuits from Alabama, Texas, Virginia consolidated, in the Voting Rights Act repeal effort of which which Republicans are enamored so dearly. There is an electoral outcome sought from that effort, too. Republicans want the Democratic party’s message to be more dim, reach less people, be less well funded, be banned from the South, and even barred from the Rust Belt. n The new Dixie map in Rove’s office doubtless has gray zones coursing up the Mississippi, Missouri, and Ohio; as if people will ignore that global warming has changed the climate in those area, and ag is enduring the new wider oscillations of weather. Inhofe will continue to hold forth that all is normal and there are answers from antiquity to explain and justify the concatenation of all these undeniable events in the environment, and the economic displacements they engender; the reactionary Republicans just got repudiated at the ballotbox for not discussing in realistic terms how those sorts of economic connections between climate and economics are linked to policy; but, Inhofe and company have lots of constituents, too. Maybe they will get better speechwriters.

    I believe Republicans’ targeting Michigan is foolhardy and destined to be a strategy that will backfire, as, with a few more election cycles, will be the Wisconsin effort.

    However, I would like very much to study the intellectual contemporary historians in the Democratic party, in this regard. One of the difficult parts of leadership is developing and enunciating new perspectives on shifts that have portent for the next few electoral cycles. It’s a fast moving field of knowledge, research, and politics. But some folks obviously have well developed voices and are audible in the press, albeit rarely and obliquely quoted by Republican-business-interest-centric news media.

    I look forward to whatever the next incarnation of NetRoots Nation will be, this coming summer, to present panels and thinkers to clarify smart insights in this regtard. I believe the political and social theory and actions are tied together for the progressive spectrum now. I also look to the Republicans’ glomming onto turbulent issues in international affairs as a push to keep pressure on the thinkers in the realm of US domestic policy. This stuff is globalized. Turkey’s borders and the history of the Bosporous; arms control; bankers purchasing the Parthenon. In my overly conceptual form of political thinking, the union men and women in Michigan are tied to those seemingly disparate realms.

  2. orionATL says:

    it is simply wonderful to see republican political tactics being taken apart by meta-arguments (“disingenuous”) rather than simple-minded, same-level counter arguments.

    the baseline assumption about any republican political argument or effort at any level should be:

    – they are lying to the public, again.

    – they are engaging in propaganda, again.

  3. emptywheel says:

    @orionATL: Yeah. While a lot of people are hailing this Freep editorial, they’re letting the Freep off for believing Snyder in teh first place.

  4. Rangoon78 says:

    We beat them back by defeating prop. 32 here in California, but like whack-a-mole they’re resurfacing in placed like Michigan*

    * Washington Post:
    Michigan police plan to continue a 24-hour presence at the state Capitol through the weekend, anticipating labor protests ahead of Tuesday, when Republicans are expected to press through a measure making Michigan a right-to-work state. If passed, the measure would give private and public sector workers (excluding police and firefighters) the right to avoid paying union dues in an organized workplace. Gov. Rick Snyder (R) has said he would sign the measure, and protesters have already hit the Capitol this week.

    Con: Proposition 32: A trick to silence working Californians – LA Daily News
    By Wally Pfister

    TWO years ago, when Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker was waging an unprecedented war against unions in that state, I denounced union busting at the Academy Awards during my acceptance speech for Best Cinematography.

    I thanked my union – the International Cinematographers Guild, IATSE Local 600 – for standing up for me, my family and the middle class. I thanked them for negotiating a strong health insurance plan and fighting for better working conditions like fair overtime pay and rules that protect our safety on the job.

    Well, here we go again with more union busting – but this time it’s much closer to home. California’s Proposition 32 threatens the very existence of unions and our ability to advocate for working Americans.

    If Prop. 32 passes, its billionaire backers will quickly move on to the next part of their agenda – taking away the protections and advances unions have fought for in the past decades. Without a doubt, we will see legislation and propositions that will degrade working conditions for all Califorians. I believe the next step will be a right-to-work proposition (which is another corporate end-run around union contracts), and we won’t even be able to fight back.

    Apocryphal* but helpful analogy of the “right to work” issue:

    *1: of doubtful authenticity (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/apocryphal)

    I was having a conversation with some friends over the weekend and they brought up the fact that they live in a neighborhood with a Home Owners Association. I asked them what their fees gave them that the neighborhood down the street didn’t offer.

    They told me that they get snow removal on all side streets, a playground for their kids, a walking path and are in the planning stages of building a swimming pool. The said that the neighborhood had rules about parking, minimum house sized requirements etc.

    They went on to tell me that all these amenities helped keep the property values higher than their neighbors and that for those reasons they didn’t mind paying their Home Owners Association Fees. That they looked at those fees as ways to protect their investment (their home).

    I went on to ask them what happens if someone moves into the subdivision, uses the amenities that all their HOA fees cover but refuses to pay those fees? They told me that the HOA puts a mechanic’s lien against their property and when the HOA publishes the list of non HOA dues paying residents when they send out their quarterly statements. They went on to tell me that most of the time when the names are published the residents start paying something to avoid the embarrassment of having their names published to the whole neighborhood.

    I asked them what they thought about Right to Work. They told me that no one should be forced to pay union dues if they didn’t want to. I then explained to them that the union dues that the members pay helped give them things like job safety, higher wages, medical insurance, vacation pay, holiday pay, sick pay etc. I went on to tell them that those benefits helped maintain a higher standard of living than the factory down the street that didn’t have a union.

    Suddenly their eyes lit up and they exclaimed; “Hey, the union dues are like our Home Owners Association Fees!” They provide a higher standard of living and our HOA fees help provide higher property values. I went on to tell them that Federal Law forces the union to represent the non dues paying members the same as the dues paying members.


  5. HotFlash says:

    @Rangoon78: dear mr/ms rangoon: BINGO! Here in Canuckistan we had a ‘postal strike’ a couple years back. It totally was not a strike, it was a lock-out, not that the media seemed to know the difference, and when I tried to support my postie by thanking him for working for 40-hour work weeks, maternity leave, sick days, and 4% vacation pay, he was like, “Whut?” What are they teaching these kids nowadays?

    In my martial art, it is said that the first rule of self-defense is to know when you are being attacked (pro’ly not unique — just common sense). So, when are workers and the petite bourgeoisie (that’s me! or else a really nice beef stew …) going to figure out that they are being attacked, and by whom?

    Yes, people, your union dues are *just like* your HOA Fees! And if you want to free-ride, you may find that your ride gets shorter, nastier, and more brutish.

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