Randy Richardville

Grand Rapids Press: A Pox on All Their Houses, But Not Our Own

The local rag posted an editorial “reflect[ing] the views of The Grand Rapids Press editorial board,” blaming almost everyone involved in the so-called “right to work” fight for the ugly way things went down Tuesday.

Right-to-work laws may or may not end up helping Michigan, but no one should be pleased with what happened in Lansing this week.

The whole process that led to the bills prohibiting workers from having to pay dues or fees to unions as a condition of employment has a patina of ick that unnecessarily divides and casts the state and its lawmakers in the national spotlight for all the wrong reasons.

[snip]

We’re disappointed in the whole lot.

The issue deserved the sunlight of the traditional legislative process, not moved through a lame duck session at breakneck speed amid threats and raucous protests, all played out in the national spotlight.

That’s not the Pure Michigan image we’re hoping to project as we rebuild the state’s economy and attract new businesses.

We all deserved better.

It blames Rick Snyder for betraying his “relentlessly positive” promises and flipflopping on an issue he had said wasn’t on his agenda.

It blames union leaders for all the violent images (some–perhaps most–not the unions’ fault), including the disputed tent collapse, the riot gear clad cops, and Jimmy Hoffa’s promise of a “civil war.”

It blames legislative leaders, calling out Doug Geiss and Dave Agema for their violent language and Lisa Posthumus Lyon for her hypocritical attempt to exempt her husband’s profession from the law.

Yet oddly (or maybe not so oddly), the Grand Rapids Press placed no blame on the man who, perhaps more than anyone else, bears responsibility both that this went down, and for the nasty way it was jammed through.

As (the umbrella that owns the Press) MLive’s own senior political columnist Tim Skubick explained, this went down in the way it did in significant part because of Grand Rapids’ most prominent citizen, Dick DeVos.

Surely you remember the GOP candidate for governor and former CEO of Amway. Well he’s back on the political field and he worked tirelessly behind Gov. Rick Snyder’s back to push Right to Work.

[snip]

Having performed the 180, Mr. DeVos ramped it up. He told senators that if they don’t vote for this thing, he would launch a petition drive to place this before the voters.

Recall that Mr. DeVos spent $35 million of his own money to beat Gov. Jennifer Granholm, (money wasted). Legislators on the other end of his phone calls knew he has the deep pockets to not only gather the required signatures, but also to find a way to sell it to the voters.

Other press outlets (and presumably Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville) were less polite, calling what DeVos and his anti-labor friends did “threats” and “arm-twisting.”

Precisely the kind of implicit violence the Press found so distasteful when union leaders or legislators did it.

It’s all very nice for the Press to blame people on the other side of the state for the ugliness in Lansing on Tuesday. But they’re utterly irresponsible if they don’t also blame the ugliness here at home.

They’re right: We all deserved better. And the place to start demanding better is from Dick DeVos.

The Libertarians Against Coercion Applauding Dick DeVos’ Coercion

I had a pretty revelatory experience last night interacting with a bunch of self-identified libertarians about alleged violence in Lansing yesterday and so-called Right to Work. I asked several of them why they were supporting a bill that should be anathema to libertarian principles. Here’s a more coherent version of the argument I made.

I also consider the restrictions right-to-work laws impose on bargaining between unions and businesses to violate freedom of contract and association. So I’m not cheerleading for the right-to-work law just passed in Michigan, which bans closed shops in which union membership is a condition of employment. I’m disappointed that the state has, once again, inserted itself into the marketplace to place its thumb on the scale in the never-ending game of playing business and labor off against one another.

[snip]

The ideal role for the government in business-labor relations is to stay the hell out of it and let the parties work things out themselves. I may preferone outcome or another, but I don’t have the right to enforce it by law, and that’s what right-to-work legislation does.

While I don’t embrace that view, it is the stance I would expect true libertarians to adopt. I’m gratified a couple of libertarians weighed in and pointed out the inconsistency of the arguments my interlocutors were making, which at least caused them some confusion (and led one to admit he would freeload on taxes if it were not for fear of legal repercussions).

One thing these self-identified libertarians kept coming back to, however, was alleged union coercion. They don’t want to be coerced into joining a union, paying dues or representation fees. These people at least pretended to be adamantly opposed to coercion.

Which is why this detail of Michigan’s union-busting is an important part of the narrative.

Michigan Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat told MSNBC that some of her Republican colleagues complained to her privately that DeVos was twisting their arms over the anti-union legislation.

“I spoke with someone in Republican leadership who was angry because these heavy-handed tactics were being used with the members,” she said. Republicans told her, she said, that DeVos had “threatened primaries, threatened to spend whatever it takes to beat them if they don’t support these bills.”

It’s not just Gretchen Whitmer saying this. Detroit Free Press said it specifically about Randy Richardville, who flipped his position on RtW.

Certainly, there are a large number of Michigan legislators who are beholden to Americans for Prosperity, or the Koch brothers. Word is the groups threatened Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville’s leadership post, and promised him a primary challenge in 2014, if he refused to move right-to-work forward.

And Tim Skubick named DeVos too.

Having performed the 180, Mr. DeVos ramped it up. He told senators that if they don’t vote for this thing, he would launch a petition drive to place this before the voters.

Recall that Mr. DeVos spent $35 million of his own money to beat Gov. Jennifer Granholm, (money wasted). Legislators on the other end of his phone calls knew he has the deep pockets to not only gather the required signatures, but also to find a way to sell it to the voters.

Folks in MI are fairly clear about one thing: a billionaire who was soundly defeated by voters in 2006 has instead brought about a radical change in the state’s law by coercing people, precisely the kind of thuggishness “Right to Work” supporters claim unions engage in.

“Right to Work” supporters insist that no one should feel like their job depends on capitulating to coercion about who or what to support.

Except that Dick DeVos and his thuggish special interest group friends used precisely that kind of coercion to cram this law through. Randy Richardville, among others, was told his job depended on supporting policies and groups he otherwise wouldn’t support.

I guess libertarians like the kind of thuggishness billionaires engage in?

Rick Snyder Wants Michigan to be Indiana

In a press conference, Rick Snyder just urged the MI legislature to pass a right to work bill (after having said it was not appropriate for MI in the past).

There were a number of funny aspects about the press conference, particularly the way Snyder and House Speaker Jase Bolger and Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville dodged repeated questions about whether Dick DeVos’ funding had some influence on this decision (they answered by pointing to all the conversations they had with UAW President Bob King, avoiding the funding question entirely). Given all that dodging, I think it safe to assume that Dick DeVos just bought the right to force down wages $1,500 for every worker in this state (as right to work legislation has been shown to do in other states).

But the funniest part of the press conference, IMO, was the way Snyder said he’s doing this because IN passed right to work last February. Over and over, he said we’re doing this because … Indiana! The governor of the beautiful, more diverse, and better educated MI now aspires for his state to be the less beautiful, more racist, and less well educated IN.

All that said, there’s nothing funny about this move generally. Republicans are adding an appropriation to the bill to make it impossible to overturn via referendum (all while preaching choice and freedom!). They mean to take that money out of MI workers’ pockets and they’re going to do it undemocratically to ensure the do so.

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