right to work

Politics & Government
7:42 am
Thu December 6, 2012

In this morning's Michigan news headlines. . .

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New emergency manager bill to be rolled out today

A new version of a local  government emergency manager bill will be rolled out today at the state Capitol. It would replace the emergency manager law that was rejected last month by voters, Rick Pluta reports. Under this new version, local governments deemed to be  in a fiscal crisis would have four options:

1. They could reach a consent agreement with the state.

2. They could agree to mediation to come up with a plan to meet the crisis.

3. They could request a state-appointed emergency manager.

4. They could go into Chapter Nine municipal bankruptcy. Under this measure, the state would pick up more of the costs of emergency managers.

Judge rules emergency financial manager law still in effect

"An Ingham County judge has dismissed a legal challenge to Michigan’s controversial Emergency Financial Manager law.  Under the law the governor can appoint a manager to run cities and school districts in ‘financial stress’.  The old law had been repealed when a new law was passed in 2011 giving Emergency Managers broader powers. An Ingham County judge ruled yesterday that the old law went back into effect when the new, tougher law was suspended.  The ruling means the work of Emergency Financial Managers in a handful of Michigan cities and school districts can continue," Steve Carmody reports.

GOP will continue to push for right-to-work even in 2013

Republicans are hoping a right-to-work bill will be passed in the remaining weeks of the lame duck session. Demonstrators gathered in Lansing yesterday to voice opposition against the idea of Michigan becoming the 24th  right-to-work state. But as MLive reports, if a right-to-work bill is not taken up in this session, advocates will put more pressure on the issue in the New Year.

"Advocates pressuring the GOP-controlled Legislature to act now have let it be known they will gather petitions for a voter-initiated right-to-work initiative if nothing is done. If more than 258,000 valid signatures are collected, the House and Senate would have 40 days to enact the law."
 

Breaking
4:14 pm
Wed December 5, 2012

Demonstrators in Michigan's Capitol protesting 'right-to-work' talk

Protestors fill the rotunda in Michigan's Capitol.
Rick Pluta MPRN

Shouting and chanting demonstrators have filled the rotunda of the state Capitol to oppose the possibility of Michigan becoming a 'right-to-work' state.

Rumors swirled that the Legislature is about to take up legislation to make Michigan a right-to-work state.

Right-to-work laws limit the power of labor unions.

These state laws can ban contracts that compel employees to join a union, or that compel them to pay fees to that union. Without some type of compulsory payment or membership requirements, unions lose a lot of their power.

Those opposing these kinds of laws call them "right-to-work-for-less" laws.

Some say they’re concerned that Governor Rick Snyder appears to have edged closer to accepting the idea of right-to-work.

He still has not endorsed a measure, and no bill has been formally introduced in the state Legislature.

As we've reported earlier, the bill could take many forms:

It could be a sweeping measure that covers every workplace. It could only cover public employee unions. It could do that, but exempt police officers and firefighters.

No one has yet formally introduced a bill. Republican state Representative Mike Shirkey said he’d like to, but is mum on details.

“We’re going to let the legislative process run its course, and I’m optimistic. You’re not going to get anything more than that from me, sir,” said Shirkey.

Democrats in Lansing are outnumbered by Republicans. But they promise to put up a fight if the Legislature takes up a right-to-work bill.

State Representative Tim Greimel is the new leader of the Michigan House Democrats. He says Democrats will use every legal means possible to stop a right-to-work bill.

“We’re not going to cooperate on issues that are important to the governor, that he needs our votes on, as long as he’s pushing this extremist right-wing agenda that would cut wages and benefits for Michigan’s middle class and working families,” said Greimel.

Ari Adler is the press secretary for state House Republicans.

“It would be unfortunate for the House Democrats and for the people of Michigan if they decided to become a one-issue caucus if they refused to work with Republicans on anything else because of a disagreement one particular issue,” said Adler.

Tea party groups were also at the Capitol to push the Legislature’s Republican majorities to adopt a right-to-work bill before the end of the lame duck session.

*This post has been updated

Politics & Government
12:44 pm
Wed December 5, 2012

Michigan Freedom Fund launches TV, radio ads supporting 'right-to-work'

screenshot YouTube

After an onslaught of TV and radio ads this election season, Michigan residents could be forgiven for hoping they had seen the last of political spots for a while.

But the ads are back.

A group calling itself the Michigan Freedom Fund is now running television and radio ads in support of rumored "right-to-work" legislation.

The nonprofit advocacy group is being run by Greg McNeilly, an employee of Dick DeVos’ investment firm Windquest Group, MLive reports.

McNeilly was campaign manager for Devos during his gubernatorial campaign and served as executive director of the Michigan Republican Party.

The Free Press reports that one of the first TV spots aired last night in the Detroit area.

Here is a look at the ad:

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Politics & Government
8:15 am
Wed December 5, 2012

The week in Michigan politics

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The week in Michigan politics interview

This week in Michigan politics revolves around what bills might be passed during the remaining weeks of the lame duck session. Morning Edition host Christina Shockley and Michigan Radio's political analyst Jack Lessnberry  talked about the possibility of passing an education overhaul and a right-to-work bill.

Politics & Government
7:53 am
Wed December 5, 2012

In this morning's Michigan news headlines. . .

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Gov. Rick Snyder says right-to-work bill is now up for discussion

Governor Rick Snyder met with Republican legislative leaders yesterday about a right-to-work bill. Afterwards he said it is on the agenda - at least for discussion - but he wouldn't say whether legislation would be taken up by year's end. A right to work bill would limit unions' ability to collect fees from nonunion workers. The Detroit Free Press reports,

"Snyder, choosing his words carefully, said the issue has been "highlighted" so much in recent weeks -- mostly by business leaders and Republicans -- that it found a place on the Capitol agenda. While not saying he is personally pushing the effort, the governor did say that there are ramifications to the decision by labor leaders to proceed against his urgings with an unsuccessful ballot initiative last month that would have enshrined collective bargaining rights in the state constitution."

Red Wings and Detroit Tigers owner has plans for new district in Downtown Detroit

"Officials from the Mike Ilitch Organization have outlined plans for a new district in Downtown Detroit featuring shopping, apartments, offices and entertainment -- including a new home for the Red Wings. Ilitch owns the Detroit Tigers and Red Wings.  A state Senate committee yesterday approved changes Tuesday to the Detroit Downtown Development Authority to help pay for the $650 million project," Michigan Radio reports.

Legislation would make recall elections tougher

"A Michigan House panel has approved legislation that would tighten language related to recall elections and restrict the time period in which people can be voted out of office. One bill would amend a section of state election law to limit recall elections to the two election dates set annually in May and November. Another would require that reasons for the recall are stated 'factually and clearly'. The current petition is reviewed for 'sufficient clarity.' Another proposed change calls for a challenger to compete for the office against the official up for recall," the AP reports.

Politics & Government
6:07 pm
Tue December 4, 2012

'Right-to-work' builds momentum in Michigan

A button from a 1970s socialist party - a whole different 'right to work' campaign.
dannybirchall flickr

The question hanging over the state Capitol is whether the Legislature will take up a so-called “right-to-work” bill during its lame duck session.

Activists on both sides of the issue showed up in force to lobby lawmakers.      

A growing chorus of conservatives says this is the moment for Michigan to join 23 other states that have enacted laws to end the closed shop and allow workers to opt out of paying union dues.

Scott Hagerstrom is with the group Americans for Prosperity, one of the champions of right-to-work.

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Politics & Government
12:06 pm
Tue December 4, 2012

Lobbyists descend on Lansing in anticipation of right-to-work bill

The group Americans for Prosperity pitched a tent on the lawn of the state Capitol as part of the lobbying effort in support of right-to-work.
Rick Pluta MPRN

Activists on both sides of the issue are lobbying Lansing lawmakers over a so-called “right-to-work” bill that could be introduced in the lame duck session.

Tea party activists and union supporters crowded into the halls of the Capitol Tuesday as Republican leaders held talks on whether to take up legislation that would end the closed shop and allow workers to opt out of paying union dues.

Governor Rick Snyder says the issue is not on his agenda – but won’t say what he would do if a bill reaches his desk.

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Politics & Government
7:11 am
Tue December 4, 2012

In this morning's Michigan news headlines. . .

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Mayors and local officials voice oppose changes to gun laws

"Mayors and other local officials were at the state Capitol Monday to oppose a rewrite some of Michigan’s gun laws. Specifically, they are asking the Legislature to continue to require people who buy pistols from private owners to get a state background check and a license. Background checks are already required by federal law when people buy from dealers. Law enforcement officials say the state’s licensed pistol registry helps them solve crimes and return stolen guns. But supporters of the legislation say the state makes it too difficult for people to legally buy firearms to for self defense," Rick Pluta reports.

Judge dismisses lawsuit over Asian Carp

A federal judge in Chicago dismissed a lawsuit Monday filed by five Great Lake states over threats posed by Asian carp. The states want barriers placed in Chicago-area waterways to prevent Asian carp from invading the Great Lakes. The Detroit Free Press reports,

"U.S. District Judge John Tharp said he couldn’t order the agencies to do what the states want because federal law requires the corps to keep shipping channels open between Lake Michigan and one of the Chicago waterways -- the Des Plaines River -- and prohibits constructing dams in any navigable waterway without Congress’ consent."

GOP want right-to-work legislation before year's end

GOP lawmakers on Monday focused their efforts to pass right-to-work legislation before the year's end. The Detroit News reports,

"The chamber is pushing for the legislation in response to Indiana becoming a right-to-work state in February and Michigan voters' defeat last month of the union-backed Proposition 2. The initiative aimed to enshrine collective bargaining rights in the Michigan Constitution in an attempt to block a right-to-work law. . . Right-to-work laws seek to ban "union security" clauses in collective bargaining agreements that require employees who don't want to join a union to pay an agency fee — sometimes up to 95 percent of monthly union dues — or be subject to termination by the employer."

Politics & Government
5:35 pm
Thu November 29, 2012

Right-to-work rumors dominate lame duck session

Right-to-work rumors have raised the stakes of this lame-duck session.
Lester Graham Michigan Radio

The Legislature is wrapping up the first week of its “lame duck” session with lots of things to do – but everyone is wondering if Republicans intend to put “right-to-work” legislation on their end-of-the-year to-do list.

The halls and lobbies of the Capitol were packed with union members urging the Legislature to not take up a right-to-work bill in the “lame duck” session.

Additional State Police troopers were called in as a precaution.

Governor Rick Snyder said he would rather see lawmakers focus on things other than right-to-work.

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It's Just Politics
2:01 pm
Fri November 16, 2012

Post-election the Michigan Tea Party continues to try to flex its muscle

It's Just Politics with Zoe Clark and Rick Pluta

It's Just Politics with Zoe Clark and Rick Pluta for Friday, November 16th, 2012

Before we get down to pure-politics this week, we want to first take a moment to remember former Michigan First Lady Helen Milliken, who just passed away. She was married to Michigan’s longest-serving governor, Bill Milliken, thus, making Ms. Milliken the state’s longest serving first lady. She was not a woman content to simply stand in the shadow of her husband’s accomplishments. She was part of that generation of first ladies, embodied also by Betty Ford, who made it clear that even though they were married to their husbands, they had their own opinions, their own causes, and their own accomplishments.

First Lady Milliken was an advocate for the arts, for environmental causes, feminism and abortion rights. She was an ardent enough activist in her own right that when Michigan environmentalists wanted to recognize environmental activism they named it the Helen and William Milliken Distinguished Service Award. She exerted some influence in making those Bill Milliken’s priorities, as well, even though at times it put both of them at odds with the more-conservative elements of the Republican Party.

And, interestingly enough, this brings us to the current Republican administration. There are some tensions between Snyder-Republicans and the right wing of the Republican Party, especially the Tea Party. The Tea Party continues to send the message that it is not planning on going away, that it’s going to continue to push Republicans in the most-conservative direction possible. And we’re really seeing this play out with two particular issues right now in Michigan: health insurance exchanges and right to work.

The politics of the Exchanges

The health insurance exchanges are the online marketplaces where people and small businesses will shop for health insurance under Obamacare. Like Orbitz or Travelocity, but for health insurance. Basically, Michigan has three options: a state-run exchange, a federally run exchange, or some type of hybrid. Governor Snyder and a lot of business groups wanted a state exchange. But, all year-long, state House Republicans kept saying, “No, not yet.”

First House Republicans wanted to wait for the U.S. Supreme Court decision on the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act. When that didn’t go the way they wanted, they said the state should wait for the November election and see who’s elected president, with the idea that if Governor Romney was elected, then Obamacare would be repealed and the health insurance exchanges would be a moot point. But, as we know, that didn’t go the way they wanted either. And, now, they’re still dragging their feet, saying they still have more questions.

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Politics & Government
8:56 am
Mon November 12, 2012

Commentary: Right to work?

There’s no doubt that the Michigan labor movement badly blundered by spending millions in its failed effort to get a constitutional amendment protecting collective bargaining on the ballot this year. The amendment went down to a stunning defeat.

Worse, as could have been predicted, the labor movement’s enemies in the legislature are now calling for the enactment of a so-called right to work law, which would outlaw the union shop.

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Politics & Government
6:44 am
Thu October 25, 2012

In this morning's Michigan news headlines. . .

Credit User: Brother O'Mara / flickr

Snyder says Prop 2 is not a referendum on right-to-work laws

"Governor Rick Snyder says if voters reject Proposal 2, that would not be an invitation to pass a right-to-work law in Michigan. Proposal 2 would guarantee collective bargaining rights in the state constitution, and call into question many of the state’s labor laws. Governor Snyder is urging a “no” vote on the proposal, but he has also asked the Legislature to stay away from right-to-work because it’s so controversial. Right-to-work laws forbid compulsory union membership as a condition of employment," Rick Pluta reports.

Political signs can now be displayed in bars

"Michigan bars and restaurants that serve alcohol can now add political signs to their décor. Since 1954 the Michigan Liquor Control Commission has had a rule that businesses with state liquor licenses could not post signs endorsing political candidates. Last week an Ann Arbor bar along with the ACLU filed suit challenging the ban," Steve Carmody reports.

Voting rights group will be on call on Election Day

"The Michigan Center for Election Law says it will be on call on Election Day. Volunteers will staff a hotline that voters can call if they experience problems casting a ballot. The phone number will be on yard signs outside most precincts. A member of the group says during the primary, some people called the hotline because clerks told them they couldn't vote without I.D. State law allows people to vote without I.D. if they fill out an affidavit," Tracy Samilton reports.

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Politics & Government
1:02 pm
Mon October 15, 2012

Commentary: Shame of the UAW

As you probably know, a Titanic battle has been going on for years now over whether to build a new bridge over the Detroit River.

On one side is Governor Rick Snyder, the government of Canada, Ford, Chrysler and General Motors, and the chambers of commerce. On the other side, Matty Moroun’s family, the owners of the Ambassador Bridge, who right now have a monopoly on moving billions in heavy automotive components from Detroit to Ontario.

The Moroun family, that is, together with those who support their position because of their money.

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Politics & Government
8:43 am
Wed October 10, 2012

Commentary: Home health care amendment

Michigan voters next month are going to be asked to decide the fate of five proposed amendments to the state constitution, plus whether they want to keep the Emergency Manager law. Some of the amendments have gotten a lot of publicity, like the one that would require a statewide vote before any new bridge could be constructed.

The amendment that would guarantee collective bargaining rights is getting attention, as is the one that would require utilities to get 25 percent of their energy from renewable sources.

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Politics & Government
9:19 am
Wed September 26, 2012

Commentary: Collective bargaining

There are five proposed constitutional amendments on the state ballot this fall, and at this point, it is impossible to predict whether any of them will pass or fail.

But I do think I know which will provoke the most spending: Proposal Two, the amendment that would make collective bargaining a state constitutional right. Unions are going to spend millions to try to get it passed. Chambers of commerce and corporate interests are likely to spend even more to try to make sure it fails. This is seen to some extent as a Battle of Stalingrad for the union movement.

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Politics & Government
9:22 am
Thu September 6, 2012

Commentary: Ballot madness

Five million Michigan voters will go to the polls two months from today. When they are handed their ballots and walk into the voting booth, they will face six ticking time bombs.

I’m talking about the ballot proposals. Yesterday, the State Supreme Court ended a legal battle by ordering three more proposed constitutional amendments on to the ballot. They’ve already put two others there, plus a referendum on the emergency manager law.

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Politics
4:43 pm
Fri April 13, 2012

Ballot box politics: Conflicts of interest for Michigan's Board of State Canvassers

user wasted time R wikimedia commons

Playing politics with the ballot: conflicts of interest for Michigan's Board of State Canvassers

A second potential conflict of interest has appeared on the Board of State Canvassers. That’s the bipartisan state panel that approves petitions and decides whether questions will go on the statewide ballot.

In both cases, the panel members have business or employment interests in the issues put in front of them. They’re big, too, and controversial – a potential challenge to Michigan’s emergency manager law and a preemptive strike at “right-to-work” legislation.

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It's Just Politics
4:08 pm
Fri April 13, 2012

Beneath the helmet: Why did Governor Snyder sign the helmet law repeal?

On this week's edition of, "It's Just Politics," we discuss the politics behind the helmet law repeal
Matthileo Flickr

Michigan is the 31st state to allow motorcyclists to ride without helmets. Gov. Rick Snyder signed the bill to lift the requirement on riders 21 years and older last night. But signing the repeal was not necessarily something the Governor wanted to to.

"This is one of those issues that the Governor says is, 'not on my agenda,' which is Snyder short-hand for, 'I don't want to deal with this,'" explains Rick Pluta, Lansing Bureau Chief for the Michigan Public Radio Network and co-host of It's Just Politics.

Why'd he do it?

So, the Governor's signing of the repeal raises the question: if it wasn't on his agenda, why did he sign it?

"I talked to [the Governor's] office," Pluta explains, "and his thinking about this evolved. He said at first that it wasn't on his agenda and then, if he was going to do it, he wanted it to be in the context of a overhaul of the state's auto-insurance laws - there has been no overhaul - but, the Governor still signed it. His office says that this [signing] recognizes that he has a partnership with the Republican Legislature, and that this is something, clearly, a majority of the House and Senate wanted."

Did the Governor blink?

This, however, raises another question: did the Governor blink? Meaning, do Republican lawmakers now know, with the signing of this bill, that just because the Governor says an issue is "not on his agenda" that he will, eventually, support it if it's sent to his desk.

For example, there's been a lot of inside-political talk about whether Governor Snyder would, if the state House and Senate passed such a measure, sign right-to-work legislation.

Governor Snyder’s spokeswoman has said that a fierce debate over "right-to-work" and other labor issues won’t help Michigan rebuild its economy. The governor has said he hopes the Legislature will put off a measure that would outlaw compulsory union membership or dues to hold a job.

But there are Republicans, such as Representative Mike Shirkey, who disagree with the Governor and believe that now is the time to introduce right-to-work legislation. One has to wonder: will Governor Snyder's signing of the helmet-law repeal embolden certain Republican lawmakers to introduce legislation that they know Governor Snyder doesn't support?

A Balancing Act

"It speaks to the balancing act that [Governor Snyder] is engaged in," Pluta notes. "On the one hand, he's trying to get the Legislature to buy into his priorities - priorities that Conservatives and Tea Partiers in the Legislature in particular are not enthusiastic about. And, he gets to say, 'maybe it wasn't on my agenda but I respected your priorities - now, you can respect mine.' Or, is it the other way around? Does this fuel this idea that the Legislature can send something to the Governor that's not on his agenda and he's more likely than not to simply accept it," Pluta says.

It's Just Politics

"It's a motorcycle story," Pluta explains, "that is the next chapter in the saga of how the Governor relates to a Legislature that is not always on the same page as him."

Commentary
11:44 am
Wed March 7, 2012

Going for Broke

For weeks, I heard rumors that a coalition of unions were going to try to get a state constitutional amendment on the ballot to prevent the legislature from making Michigan a so-called "right-to-work" state. That is, one where workers could no longer be required to join or pay dues to a union. Well, the unions revealed their proposal yesterday.

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Politics
6:48 pm
Tue March 6, 2012

Ballot drive launched to push back against "anti-labor measures"

Unions and progressive groups have launched a ballot drive as a push back against what they say is a wave of anti-labor measures from Republicans in Lansing.

The campaign wants to put a proposed amendment to the state constitution on the November ballot.

It would prohibit Michigan from becoming a "right-to-work" state that allows employees to opt out of paying union dues. It would also pre-empt a host of other laws that would restrict union organizing and fundraising.

Jeff Bean, a teacher’s union member from Flint, said union rights helped build the middle class.

"A strong middle class is the backbone, especially here in Michigan, but I would say nationwide – of our economy, of our process, of our culture, so I think it’s something that deserves a constitutional amendment for that reason," said Bean.

Opponents of the ballot drive said it’s motivated more by a desire of union leaders to drive voter turnout in November than to guarantee workers’ rights.

Governor Rick Snyder’s spokeswoman says a fierce debate over "right-to-work" and other labor issues won’t help Michigan rebuild its economy.

The governor has said he hopes the Legislature will put off a measure that would outlaw compulsory union membership or dues to hold a job.

The governor’s spokeswoman, Geralyn Lasher, said Gov. Snyder is equally skeptical of a ballot drive to guarantee union organizing rights in the state constitution.

"The 'right-to-work' issue, everything about that is so divisive, it’s not something Michigan needs to be focused on right now. We have so many other things that we can work on cooperatively. We’ve seen a lot of success with collective bargaining. We want to continue to move forward. We don’t really see a lot of positives from this battle on either side of the issue," said Wurfel.

Union and progressive groups launched the ballot drive today.

They have until July 9 to collect enough signatures of registered voters to qualify for the November ballot.

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