right to work

Politics & Government
1:52 pm
Wed December 12, 2012

More protests after Mich. right-to-work action

Michigan Gov. Snyder at a press conference on December 11, 2012 announcing he had signed 'right-to-work' into law.
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."

Politics & Government
12:50 pm
Wed December 12, 2012

Daily Show lampoons Michigan's 'right-to-work' drama

One of the common ground things Michiganders want and need. A better slogan.
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:

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Politics & Government
8:36 am
Wed December 12, 2012

Commentary: Will Snyder get a second term?

Lessenberry commentary for 12/12/12

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.

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Politics & Government
7:40 am
Wed December 12, 2012

The week in Michigan politics

cncphotos flickr

The week in Michigan politics interview for 12/12/12

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.

Politics & Government
7:31 am
Wed December 12, 2012

In this morning's Michigan news headlines. . .

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.

Politics & Government
6:07 pm
Tue December 11, 2012

Michigan Gov. Snyder signs right-to-work into law

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder announces that he has signed 'right-to-work' into law.
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.

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Politics & Government
5:49 pm
Tue December 11, 2012

Lansing UPDATES: 'Right-to-work' protestors back at Capitol

Michigan State Police clearing the George Romney Building in Lansing.
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.

Read more
Politics & Government
5:16 pm
Tue December 11, 2012

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

According to Bernie Porn of EPIC-MRA, public opinion is no longer in favor of right-to-work
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.

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Newsmaker Interviews
4:43 pm
Tue December 11, 2012

Michigan Nurses Association against 'right-to-work'

Nurses at the Michigan State Capitol Monday afternoon.
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.

Politics & Government
4:04 pm
Tue December 11, 2012

Right-to-work bills headed to Gov. Snyder’s desk

House Democrats crowd around podium after the first "right-to-work" bill passes, demanding a motion to reconsider. Motion was denied.
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.

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Politics & Government
2:20 pm
Tue December 11, 2012

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

UAW President Bob King says right-to-work legislation will compromise the unions

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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Politics & Government
8:43 am
Tue December 11, 2012

Snyder talks right to work on Morning Edition

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder.
Steve Carmody Michigan Radio

Right to work interview with Governor Snyder

Michigan lawmakers are set to reconvene today for what could be the final votes on right-to-work legislation.

If passed, Michigan would become the 24th right-to-work state, banning unions from collecting mandatory fees from nonunion workers.

Governor Rick Snyder says he will sign the legislation.

He called into Morning Edition this morning to talk about the issue.

Politics & Government
7:26 am
Tue December 11, 2012

Police prepare for large protests today in Lansing

david_shane flickr

Dozens of State Police have gathered in a hallway in the Capitol’s lower level, cordoned off by blue curtains. This is their base of operations in the building this week as hundreds – maybe thousands - of protesters are expected to fill the upper levels.

In one closet, police have stashed helmets and other riot gear.

Capitol Facilities Director Steve Benkovsky hopes the demonstrations will stay peaceful.

"Everybody has a right to come in here and voice their opinion. And we'll deal with it the best we can and let them voice their opinion," said Benkovsky.

State and local police plan to close a number of streets around the state Capitol.

They will also limit the number of people allowed in the building.

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Politics & Government
6:42 am
Tue December 11, 2012

In this morning's Michigan news headlines. . .

User: Brother O'Mara flickr

Right to work legislation expected to be sent to Snyder

"The state House is expected to send legislation to Governor Rick Snyder today that would make Michigan the 24th so-called “right-to-work” state. Democrats are preparing a last-ditch effort to try and stall progress on the bills. Meanwhile, police officers from across the state are in Lansing preparing for protests as lawmakers get ready to vote on so-called “right-to-work” bills," the Michigan Public Radio Network reports.

President Obama talks fiscal cliff and right to work in Michigan

"President Obama talked about the controversy in Lansing, Michigan as well as the one in Washington, D.C. during his visit to a Redford Township engine plant yesterday. He told a crowd of hundreds of union workers that the consequences of going over the fiscal cliff are huge, both for the economy and the middle class. President Obama says he will insist that Americans making more than $250-thousand a year pay more taxes. He also rebuked state Republicans for pushing so-called "right to work" bills that would let people opt out of paying union dues.  He says such laws bring down middle class wages," Tracy Samilton reports.

State Treasurer initiates review of Detroit's finances

"Detroit’s march toward a state-appointed emergency financial manager appeared to speed up yesterday. The city’s financial advisory board voted to support the state treasurer’s move to start the process. It can last up to 30 days. Officials told the advisory board Detroit is burning through cash at an alarming speed. They project that without help, the city will end the fiscal year more than 100-million dollars in the hole," Sarah Cwiek reports.

Politics & Government
6:14 pm
Mon December 10, 2012

Capitol set for Tuesday's right-to-work vote

Ifmuth Flickr

At the state Capitol, Democrats are preparing their last-ditch effort to slow or stop legislation that would make Michigan the 24th so-called “right-to-work” state.

Republicans in the state House are expected to send the legislation to Governor Rick Snyder Tuesday.

Thousands of demonstrators are expected to turn out at the Capitol.

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Politics & Government
4:26 pm
Mon December 10, 2012

Obama in Redford: Right-to-work laws "don't have anything to do with economics"

President Obama speaking at Detroit Diesel's engine plant in Redford Township, Michigan.
screen grab WDIV

In a speech Monday in front of employees from Redford Township’s Detroit Diesel engine factory, President Barack Obama weighed in on Michigan’s impending right-to-work legislation.

About halfway through the President’s address, intended to promote his plan for averting the fiscal cliff, Obama took up the issue of right-to-work, the Detroit Free Press Reports:

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Opinion
3:04 pm
Mon December 10, 2012

Right-to-work in Michigan: Is there a middle ground?

Rick Pluta/MPRN

One thing I know about politically polarizing issues: arguing for middle-of-the-road positions alienates a lot of folks.

But here goes anyway.

I don’t love unions.

And I feel I can say that with some authority, given that as an employee of several media companies, I’ve been a member of three of them.

In every case, I felt unions were so concerned about protecting territory, that they were, at times, anti-progressive, and too often in the business of preserving their power.

I couldn’t touch equipment.

I was prevented from developing technical skills I would have been wise to learn.

Later in my career, when I worked at non-union shops, I was glad that, if I wanted to try something new, I could.

Now, that may seem like a funny way for me to argue that right-to-work laws are a bad idea, but that’s where I’m going with this.

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Politics & Government
3:03 pm
Mon December 10, 2012

Stateside: Right-to-work's future impact as potent as it is unpredictable

Both Lessenberry and Howes noted the haste with which the legislation passed.
Steve Carmody Michigan Radio

Michigan Radio’s senior political analyst Jack Lessenberry and Detroit News’s Daniel Howes discussed the implications of right-to-work in Michigan.

According to Howes, the right-to-work legislation is representative of the country’s current political divide.

“I view this in the context of the reckoning that is going on in Michigan in terms of its trying to come to terms with its post-war industrial past. The UAW has become dramatically weaker, dramatically smaller. This is indicative of the political divide we’re seeing in our country,” said Howes.

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Politics & Government
11:50 am
Mon December 10, 2012

A 'Michigan Cliff'? Democrats say Snyder is misinformed about 'right-to-work'

Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI).
Jeffrey Simms Photography Flickr

Calling the fast-moving 'right-to-work' legislation moving through the Michigan Legislature a "Michigan cliff," the Democratic members of Congress said they urged Gov. Snyder to put a stop to it.

The Democratic Michigan delegation, including Sen. Carl Levin, and Reps. John Dingell, John Conyers, and Sander Levin, and other members of the delegation attended the meeting with Snyder.

They held an hour-long private meeting with him about the 'right-to-work' legislation this morning.

The Legislature is expected to vote tomorrow on the legislation.

Michigan Sen. Carl Levin said the delegation was blunt with the Governor in their urging to veto the bill.

"We're not sure he understood how these unions worked," said Levin during a press call with reporters after the meeting.

Gov. Snyder has said the 'right-to-work' issue is about workers freedom to choose.

"I believe most Michiganders and most Americans believe [that workers should] have the ability to choose whether they want to belong to an organization or not." Snyder said during an interview with Paul Egan of the Detroit Free Press last week.

"That is absolutely false," said Rep. Sander Levin (D) on the call with reporters. "There is no requirement that people join a union."

Union membership is not a requirement in a 'union shop.' But all workers do have to support the union financially.

Sen. Levin said he pointed out to Gov. Snyder that unions are required to provide equal benefits to everyone in the workplace, even though not all employees are required to join the union.

"The governor said it incorrectly. And today, I don't think he understands what it is really about," said Rep. Levin.

Members of the Democratic Michigan delegation described their meeting with Gov. Snyder as 'intense.'

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Politics & Government
9:18 am
Mon December 10, 2012

Commentary: Revitalizing labor?

Lessenberry essay for 12/10/12

There’s no doubt that turning Michigan into a right to work state will strike a major, and potentially even fatal, blow to unions.

Nor is there any doubt that the way that this was done was profoundly anti-democratic. Ramming a hugely significant bill through both houses on a single day is essentially unheard of.

Afterwards, State Senator Steve Bieda told me: “We’ve had more deliberative hearings on something like a commemorative license plate.” The Republicans also added some appropriations money, structuring this bill so that voters cannot attempt to collect signatures to put a repeal on the ballot.

What happened is a disaster for labor, however you slice it, and I cannot imagine anything that will prevent the governor from signing this into law. However, this could be -- just could be -- a blessing for the labor movement, even though it looks like anything but.

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