right to work

cncphotos / flickr

This Week in Michigan Politics, Morning Edition host Christina Shockley and Michigan Radio’s political analyst Jack Lessenberry talk about the end of the lame duck session.

Lessenberry says “this probably has been the most productive and momentous and game changing lame duck session doing back to the 1960s.”

Lessenberry says making Michigan a right to work state was probably the biggest moment in Michigan politics this year.

screenshot / LiveStream

The polling firm Public Policy Polling found Gov. Snyder's positive poll numbers dropping precipitously.

PPP is described as a "Democratic-leaning" survey firm, so it's no surprise they wanted to see how Gov. Snyder is faring after passing the controversial 'right-to-work' legislation in the state.

The firm is comparing their results from data gathered on Gov. Snyder prior to the hullabaloo around the legislature's prolific lame-duck session.

user ShellyS / Flickr

Don't go calling the Republican-controlled state Legislature a lame-duck.

They were anything but, passing major legislation in the final days between the election and the end of the year.

We posted on the major legislation passed on the epic evenings of Thursday, December 6, and Tuesday December 11, but not on the entire lame duck.

Turns out, the Detroit News has that list.

Here's their wrap up of the major legislation that passed during the lame duck session.

And if you're unhappy with what they did, and are thinking of participating in a recall campaign or two, they've got that covered as well.

In their It's Just Politics segment, Michigan Radio's Zoe Clark and MPRN's Rick Pluta point out:

One of the final actions of the Republican-controlled Legislature was to make it much harder to recall elected officials. Recalls are among the retributions being plotted by labor in the face of right-to-work. This could be a bit of a game changer before that’s even started. That should have state Senator Partrick Colbeck, a Republican from a swing district in western Wayne County, breathing a little easier. Colbeck was a big backer of right-to-work and is now considered a top recall target by Democrats.

Matthileo / Flickr

This week we saw the wrap-up of the Legislature’s lame duck session. It was big and messy and there’s still a lot to sort out.  But clearly the biggest news, history-making, really, was that Michigan will become the nation’s 24th right-to-work state. Right-to-work is a loaded issue with passionate supporters and
opponents. Thousands and thousands of protesters turned out to try and make their voices heard. This will be an issue that resonates for a long time. It has huge cultural consequences. But, as always, on It’s Just Politics, we want to focus on the inside mechanics, the down-and-dirty politics.

And, some of the politics during lame-duck sure was down and dirty. One of the final actions of the Republican-controlled Legislature was to make it much harder to recall elected officials. Recalls are among the retributions being plotted by labor in the face of right-to-work. This could be a bit of a game changer before that’s even started. That should have state Senator Partrick Colbeck, a Republican from a swing district in western Wayne County, breathing a little easier. Colbeck was a big backer of right-to-work and is now considering a top recall target by Democrats.

Republicans also made sure their work won’t be the target of a referendum campaign by putting an expenditure in it. GOP lawmakers also did this when they passed a new emergency manager law this week. We’ve talked about this before on It’s Just Politics: how Republicans in this session have used this provision in the Michigan Constitution that’s meant to protect the state’s ability to pay its bills. But, it’s being used, time and again, to shield laws from the threat of voter-reversal through a referendum.

This week, after months – years, really – of saying right-to-work wasn’t something he wanted, that it was too divisive of an issue, Governor Snyder signed the legislation into law. To many, it seemed almost like it was forced on him. Particularly after One Tough Nerd had been a Hamlet on the question, “to be right-to-work or not to be right-to-work…?” This has many political observers wondering: was this just a Kabuki  dance all along? Was there always a plan to “do” right-to-work?

Meanwhile, compare the Governor’s apprehension with Republican Speaker of the House Jase Bolger. Bolger, who just might be Lansing’s most-powerful politician right now, was *never* coy about the issue. No doubt about it: he wanted, pushed for, worked for right-to-work. And, how interesting it is that it was just a little over a month ago that Bolger was teetering on the edge of humiliation. House Republicans had mismanaged a couple of controversies (think the Roy Schmidt party-changing episode and “Vagina-gate”) and Bolger came close to becoming the first House Speaker in 20 years to lose his seat. But, he came back to Lansing after the election, seemingly unharmed,  and waged the battle over right-to-work.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Michigan State University graduates had to pass thru a line of  anti-Right to Work picketers to attend  today’s commencement ceremony.

The focus of the protest was the commencement speaker.

Governor Snyder was greeted with a mixture of boos and applause, as  MSU officials draped the symbol of his honorary degree on his shoulders.


Snyder briefly acknowledged the Right to Work controversy that has dominated the news from the state capitol this week.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

This week Weekend Edition host Rina Miller and Michigan Radio’s political analyst Jack Lessenberry discuss the lame duck session in Lansing.

While right to work was passed despite massive protests, Lessenberry says there is only one way it can be repealed.

“People could petition with the legislature to repeal the law and if they don’t then it goes on the ballot,” he says.

The question is, is if anyone will actually do it.

And a package of abortion bills were sent to Governor Snyder’s desk.

“The package passed is mainly regulating abortion clinics, putting them under more scrutiny, making sure that people coming in for a procedure weren’t coerced,” Lessenberry says.

And finally, a new emergency manager law also moved forward.

“This gives emergency managers more power than the old emergency financial managers have. But it also sort of gives cities a choice--whether they want an emergency manger, whether they want to move to bankruptcy or have a consent agreement,” Lessenberry says.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Governor Rick Snyder will deliver the commencement address at Michigan State University’s December graduation this morning.    

Some 23 hundred undergraduates and graduate students will receive their degrees during the mid-morning ceremony at the Breslin Center.

Thousands of family members and friends are expected to attend.   And maybe a few protesters as well.

Several groups unhappy with Governor Snyder’s quick signing this week of Right to Work legislation have talked about showing up at the M-S-U commencement which is open to the public.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

An online fundraising campaign has collected thousands of dollars to help a Lansing man whose hot dog cart was destroyed during Tuesday’s anti-Right to Work rally at the state capitol.

Clinton Tarver’s hot dog cart has long been a fixture in Lansing, usually set up across the street from the state capitol.  But on Tuesday he was set up inside a tent on the capitol grounds. 

Union members tore down the tent, which housed right to work supporters.

The lawmakers who passed legislation this week making Michigan a right to work state wanted to make sure the voters couldn’t try to repeal it by collecting signatures and putting another referendum on the ballot. That‘s how unhappy citizens got rid of the governor’s first emergency manager law last month.

So the legislature included some money in the bill. Under Michigan’s constitution, appropriations bills are immune from the referendum process.  The idea was to make sure right to work could never be repealed unless by a vote of the legislature.

And since Democrats winning control of the State Senate any time in the next decade is seen as virtually impossible, those who want right to work figure they have made sure it is here to stay.

Yet believe it or not, there is a way those opposing right to work could collect signatures and get something on the ballot to repeal this. It won’t be easy, and it would take at least two years.

Michigan Municipal League / flickr

State Attorney General Bill Schuette says he expects Michigan’s new right-to-work law will be challenged in court, and he expects it will survive those lawsuits.

One possible challenge would focus on different treatment for different types of unions.         

The law will allow workers for unionized employers to opt out of paying dues or fees. But the law won’t apply to police and firefighter unions.

Schuette said that could create too much disharmony in public safety units that require order and discipline.

“Firefighters, first-responders, law enforcement – they’re on the front lines of public safety. They have a very important, unique responsibility, making sure our streets and our neighborhoods are safe and secure, so this is a very appropriate carve-out. It was a correct carve-out,” he said.

Schuette said the law does apply to the state’s 35,000 civil service employees.

Some interpretations of the state constitution say the law can’t touch civil service workers. That’s because they are governed by the Michigan Civil Service Commission.

user cedarbenddrive / Flickr

This lame duck session of the Michigan legislature has been moving at very face pace.

In addition to the passage and signing of so-called right-to work legislation, the Republican majorities in the state House and Senate have a number of other bills on the agenda. They include a package of abortion related bills, a bill that would give health care providers the right to deny service due to religious or ethical objections, and a new emergency manager bill that would replace the one overturned by Michigan voters last month.

Michigan Radio's Jennifer White talks politics with Susan Demas, political analyst for Michigan Information and Research Service, and Ken Sikkema, former Senate Majority Leader and Senior Policy Fellow at Public Sector Consultants.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Supporters of Michigan's new Right-to-Work law say they were attacked on the Capitol grounds Tuesday by union members.   Now they want a formal investigation.

During Tuesday’s anti-Right to Work demonstration on the state capitol grounds, union members tore down a tent set up by the legislation’s supporters.    About a dozen members of Americans for Prosperity were caught in the tent as it collapsed.   They claim they were punched and kicked and had property stolen and destroyed. 

Stateside: An unusually active lame duck session

Dec 13, 2012
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

There is an abundance of political action in this year’s lame duck session.

Bill Ballenger of “Inside Michigan Politics” and Michigan Radio’s Jack Lessenberry spoke with Cyndy about the recent legislature coming out of the Capitol.

According to Lessenberry there were several reasons for right-to-work being passed.

“The legislature will be marginally more Democratic next time. Some of the people who were voting are people who aren’t coming back. It was a campaign year and some of the stuff that might have gotten done earlier didn’t get done,” said Lessenberry.

“Legislators have been working on a lot of these bills for a year and a half,” said Ballenger.

Ballenger noted the role of partisan politics in the lame duck session.

Rick Pluta / Michigan Public Radio

It’s been quite a week in Michigan. Maybe you heard about it?

Our legislature introduced and passed so called “right to work” legislation in two days and Republican Governor Rick Snyder signed it within hours, dealing a harsh blow to the more than 12,000 union supporting protestors surrounding the building.

But – did you see what I did there? Did my bias jump off the page at you?

screenshot / LiveStream

Michigan Gov. Snyder has made himself available to the media before, during, and after the 'right-to-work' drama in the state.

He's getting his message out that he believes "more and better jobs" will come to Michigan as a result.

Marketplace's Jeremy Hobson spoke with Gov. Snyder this morning about why right-to-work suddenly popped up on his agenda. He told the public it wasn't on his agenda for more than a year.

And then last Thursday happened.

Here's the edited 3-and-a-half minute interview:

Hobson pressed Snyder on his argument that "thousands of jobs" have come to Indiana.

Stateside: Michigan Radio staff chime in on RTW drama

Dec 13, 2012

Michigan Radio Lansing Bureau Chief Rick Pluta inside the Capitol

Reuters' Rick Carey and Bernie Woodall dug into the process by which right to work legislation was passed in the union stronghold of Michigan, and found that it was the result of dogged, behind-the-scenes work by some of Michigan's newest legislators.

That runs contrary to the idea in many published reports that the legislation took on a sudden life of its own, a kind of "seize the day" mentality, after the defeat of Proposal 2 in November.

From the story:

Don’t know about you, but it seems to me that the current lame duck session of the legislature is trying to do about as much as lawmakers normally do in about ten years. Now I am sure that’s an exaggeration, but it doesn’t feel like one.

Consider this. In a single day, the governor and the Republican majority pushed through the most momentous labor legislation in years, taking the once inconceivable step of outlawing the union shop and making Michigan a so-called right to work state.

They aren’t stopping there, however: The governor is going to have to make a decision on four bills, or parts of bills aimed at making it harder for women to get abortions in Michigan.

For the last two years, lots of people have believed that Rick Snyder may be a pro-business fiscal conservative, but that he was really a moderate on social issues. Well, now we are about to find out.

Stateside: Tim Bos sees benefits in right-to-work legislation

Dec 12, 2012
Matthileo / Flickr

Tim Bos- a union member for 17 years- is now a vocal proponent of right-to-work.

Bos spoke with Cyndy about what he feels are the positive impacts the legislation will have on Michigan.

“I was very pleased to see what happened. When I got involved in this...this was just a dream," said Bos.

"We didn’t know if we would ever see it happen, but it was something we felt very strongly about. It didn’t have anything to do with being against unions, we love unions."

Bos described why he felt unions have an important role in protecting workers from bad-acting companies.

"We cherish that. We want to make sure that always stays healthy and available. On the other hand, we think that it has been very detrimental to the union cause and to workers in general by being forced to financially support... a third party that is allowed to siphon off part of your earnings just in order for you to have the ability to continue working,” said Bos.

Canty pointed out that workers can vote to decertify the union if they don't like.

Bos agreed, but said workers feel immense pressure not to do so.

"This whole thing is about power and money," said Bos.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Protests are taking place a day after Republicans converted Michigan from a seemingly impregnable fortress of organized labor into a right-to-work state.

Protesters covered their mouths with tape Wednesday in Lansing with the words "$1,500 less" written on it in reference to wage cuts they expect. Silent protests also took place in Saginaw and were planned elsewhere.

In Detroit, dozens of noisy protesters entered a state of Michigan office building to voice their opposition to right-to-work.

The state House swiftly approved two bills reducing unions' strength Tuesday, one dealing with private-sector workers and the other with public employees, as thousands of furious protesters at the state Capitol roared in vain.

Republican Gov. Rick Snyder signed the measures into law within hours, calling them "pro-worker and pro-Michigan."

screen grab / Daily Show

Comedian Jon Stewart on Comedy Central's Daily Show led his show with the 'right-to-work' drama that unfolded yesterday.

He took aim at Gov. Rick Snyder who reversed his stance that 'right-to-work' legislation was too divisive an issue to take on.

STEWART:

"Maybe it won't be so bad?

I mean the phrase 'right-to-work' is such a positive and uplifting message. What could it possibly to do to organizations like unions that also support workers rights?

I mean, the law probably strengthens unions."

NEWS CLIP:

Last night, after the demonstrations and protests, and after the right to work bills had been signed into law by Governor Snyder, I got a series of phone calls from prominent Democrats.

Geoffrey Fieger was one of those. The famously flamboyant lawyer was, we sometimes forget, the Democratic nominee for governor in 1998. “What are they thinking!“ he yelled over the phone. “This is the end of Snyder. Snyder is going down. All the Democrats have to do is find a candidate. Trust me. He or she will have all the money they need. We have got to defeat him. He is a bad man. An evil man, and a puppet. People know that now.”

Well, you can’t say that there is any doubt about how Geoffrey Fieger feels. And whatever your politics, there is certainly no doubt that Rick Snyder is less popular than he was a month ago.

Indeed, there is a big sense of betrayal on the part of people who had convinced themselves that Snyder was a moderate much like former Governor William Milliken. The Detroit Free Press’s editorial page’s reaction sounded more like that of a jilted lover than of a newspaper disappointed in a politician.

They wrote, “We believed him. For two years we supported Snyder. We indulged many compromises Snyder maintained were necessary to advance his pro-growth agenda. We trusted Snyder’s judgment. That trust has now been betrayed for us.“

There were a lot of people outside Michigan’s capitol yesterday who believe Snyder is going down, that he will either be defeated two years from now or even recalled before that.

But I am not so sure.

cncphotos / flickr

It has been quite a week in Michigan politics.

Morning Edition host Christina Shockley and Michigan Radio's political analyst Jack Lessenberry discuss what happens now that right to work bills have been signed into law and what other controversial bills are being looked at in the remainder of the lame duck session.

User: Brother O'Mara / flickr

Right to work bills signed

"Michigan has officially joined 23 other so-called "right-to-work" states. Governor Rick Snyder signed the bills in the last half-hour. The legislation will end the practice of requiring workers to pay union dues as a condition of employment. It's an extremely divisive idea in Michigan - which has long been a union stronghold. Critics call it 'right to work for less.' But the governor says he disagrees. The bill is expected to take effect in March. But opponents say legal action to pre-empt the law is likely," Sarah Hulett reports.

Other controversial bills are being looked at in Lansing

"The right to work legislation is getting all the attention right now. But with time still left in the lame duck session, Michiganders could wind up with a whole slew of controversial new laws next year. But here's what else is going on: there's the overhaul of Blue Cross Blue Shield, Michigan's largest insurer. Then there's a package of abortion bills that would make it dramatically tougher for a woman to get and pay for an abortion. And there's a bill that lets doctors and employers opt out of providing any medical care that doesn't fit with their moral or religious beliefs, like birth control or abortions. Plus, there's a bill pending that would let people buy handguns without needing a state-issued license," Kate Wells reports.

Detroit City council approves measures to help the city's finances

The Detroit City Council has narrowly approved a series of measures that should stave off an immediate cash crisis. As the Detroit News reports,

Council members approved five of six items requested by the Bing administration to accommodate the city's financial restructuring, including a controversial contract with the Miller Canfield law firm. The council sent one item, a proposed pay cut for nonunion employees, to a committee for further study.

State officials said Tuesday they are prepared to release $10 million in bond money pending a formal request from Mayor Dave Bing. Another $20 million likely will be released later this month, they said.

screen shot / LiveStream

It's a historic day for a state that's the birthplace of the labor movement.

Gov. Rick Snyder said he signed the 'right-to-work' bills that landed on his desk this evening into law.

Public and private-sector workers will no longer be compelled to pay union dues or fees if they choose not to.

"Right-to-work" laws are also known as "anti-dues" laws.

The laws are often confused with outlawing mandatory union membership.

Under federal law, mandatory union membership is already outlawed.

People can work in a "union shop," but not be a union member.

However, they are often required to support the union financially. The unions say these payments are necessary because their collective bargaining agreements benefit all workers.

Michigan law will outlaw the practice of mandatory financial support of unions in "union shops."

The law will go into effect 90 from the end of this legislative session, which puts it into early spring. It won't affect current union contracts that call for mandatory fees from members or non-members. Many contracts for auto workers, for example, won't expire until the fall of 2015.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

We're updating this post on the 'right-to-work' legislation moving through the Michigan Legislature.

'Right-to-work' laws, also known as 'anti-dues' laws, outlaw union contracts that stipulate that all workers must financially support the union in some way.

It's often confused with outlawing mandatory union membership.

Under federal law, mandatory union membership is already outlawed.

People can work in a 'union shop,' but not be a union member.

Stateside: A shift in public opinion of right-to-work

Dec 11, 2012
Rick Pluta/MPRN

As right-to-work gains momentum, supporters of the legislation claim Michigan’s public opinion is in favor of the bill.

EPIC-MRA has tracked the public’s opinion of right-to-work since June 2007. During that time there was indeed 62% majority opinion in favor of the bill. But Bernie Porn of EPIC-MRA recently found that the opinion is drastically different than that of 2007.

NBCnews.com / MNA Facebook page

With Michigan poised to become the country’s 24th so-called "right-to-work" state, thousands of protestors have flooded the State Capital today to demonstrate against the legislation. Michigan Radio's Jennifer White talks with Katie Oppenheim, a registered nurse, and president of the University of Michigan Nurses Union. Oppenheim is also affiliated with the Michigan Nurses Association.

Jake Neher / MPRN

Governor Rick Snyder will have the final say as to whether Michigan will become a so-called “right-to-work” state.

The state House approved legislation Tuesday that would end the practice of requiring workers to pay union dues as a condition of employment.

Representative Tim Greimel is the new leader of the state House Democrats. He said the fight over “right-to-work” is not over.

Stateside: UAW President Bob King addresses right-to-work

Dec 11, 2012

Protestors swarm the Capitol as right-to-work rapidly moves through the Legislature.

Among the chanting men and women is UAW President Bob King.

Today he spoke with Cyndy about the problems he sees in right-to-work.

"Right-to-work is trying to undermine unions' ability to serve their members. It isn't good for companies. It's a huge mistake," said King.

He addressed various percentages of union participation.

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