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Bottari reports: "At a time when working families are struggling, the Michigan GOP decided it was a fine time to push for a race to the bottom in wages and working conditions."

Pro-union demonstrators crowd the Rotunda in the Capitol in Lansing, Mich., 12/15/12. (photo: AP)
Pro-union demonstrators crowd the Rotunda in the Capitol in Lansing, Mich., 12/15/12. (photo: AP)

Koch-Funded ALEC Launches Assault on Michigan Unions

By Mary Bottari, PR Watch

07 December 12


n a sudden change of heart, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder announced that he would sign so-called "right to work" legislation designed to gut union membership in the auto capital of the world.

Yesterday in Michigan, Gov. Rick Snyder and his GOP controlled lame-duck legislature pulled a fast one, introducing and then ramming through the House and the Senate so-called "right to work" legislation. The bill was introduced at 11 a.m., passed the House at 5 p.m. by a narrow margin and the Senate at around 6:00 p.m. When the process is complete and the bill is signed, Michigan will become the 24th right to work state.

Why the rush? The GOP majority felt it might not have the votes once the newly elected legislature was seated in January. The bill is designed so it cannot be repealed by popular referendum.

The Capitol was chaotic today as police peppersprayed protesters and locked down the building, forcing Democrats to seek a court order to get the doors open again. "It's not only anti-worker, its anti-democratic," Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero told MSNBC.

Right to work bills prohibit unions from requiring all members to pay dues. The laws make it much harder for unions to organize and exist. They have long been used in the South to push down wages and weaken worker movements. The Michigan bill will apply to both public and private sector unions.

At a time when working families are struggling, the Michigan GOP decided it was a fine time to push for a race to the bottom in wages and working conditions, while at the same time kneecapping their chief opponents in the political arena -- organized workers.

Koch Brothers Kick Up Their Heels

Standing tall behind the measure was David Koch's Americans for Prosperity group, the non-profit organization that bankrolled Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker's efforts to strip the state's public employee unions of their collective bargaining rights. AFP ran a multi-million dollar ad campaign trying to convince Wisconsinites that unions were their enemy, sponsoring rallies and backing Walker to the hilt when he later faced recall over the measure.

The crowing began early this morning. "Michigan passage of right-to-work legislation will be the shot heard around the world for workplace freedom. A victory over forced unionization in a union stronghold like Michigan would be an unprecedented win on par with Wisconsin that would pave the way for right to work in states across our nation," said Scott Hagerstrom, Michigan director of AFP in a statement.

AFP and other Koch-funded groups like the American Legislative Exchange Council have long promoted an extreme anti-worker agenda. It comes as no surprise that key sponsors of the Michigan bill in the House and the Senate such as Senator Arlan Meekhoff, Rep. Tom McMillin, and Rep. Pete Lund are ALEC members. Michigan legislators talked about their plans for passing Right to Work at the ALEC Spring Task Force Meeting in Charlotte earlier this year according to a legislator from New Hampshire.

The ALEC library of bills CMD first posted on not only includes a "model" "Right to Work" bill and other measures to disempower and defund unions, but a raft of measures to crush wages for the benefit of corporate CEOs. ALEC has bills to repeal living wage laws, prevailing wage laws, and even minimum wage laws. The only workers ALEC wants to help are workers in China; ALEC has never seen a job killing free trade bill that it has not backed.

Workplace Fairness or a Race to the Bottom?

Michigan's Republican Gov. Rick Snyder has vowed to sign the bill into law and said today, "This is about workplace fairness and equality. This is about the relationship between workers and their union. Workers should have a right to choose who they associate with." His goal was to "bring people together," not divide Michigan.

This is a change in tune for the Governor who previously said that the legislation was not a "policy priority" because it was "too divisive."

The move was political payback for the unions that had attempted to protect themselves from such an assault by changing the Constitution in an unsuccessful ballot measure this past fall. "The union bosses overreached in Michigan when they tried to strong arm their way into our Constitution, and we are proud to stand with the elected officials who are going to strike a blow for workplace freedom," said AFP's Hagerstrom. AFP opposed Prop 2 and other pro-union measures on the ballot.

But "workplace freedom" does not translate into higher wages.

"Laws like this bring lower wages, slashed benefits, disappearing pensions and unsafe workplaces. They silence the voices of people who work for a living. Calling this bill ‘Right-To-Work' is a lie. The only rights it will provide are the rights of millionaires and billionaires to do whatever they want to working people. This is wrong for Michigan and wrong for hard-working people across the United States," said United Steelworkers President Leo Gerard.

"If what we want to do is do a little bit better at attracting certain kinds of low-wage jobs, I think this may help," Michigan economist Charles Ballard said. "But it's an awful lot of political blood to be spilled for something that will not galvanize Michigan's economy." your social media marketing partner


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+80 # Barbara K 2012-12-07 15:52
As a Michigan resident, I am appalled at this sneak attack. What this governor and legislators have been doing to Michigan is absolutely horrible. I believe there was election fraud going on here in November; but the Secretary of State is a Republican too, so we most likely won't get any justice from him. I hope the voters smarten up in 2 years, the next election chance to get rid of this stain on our state.
+48 # Vardoz 2012-12-07 18:03
This is what they want to to all over the nation. Impoverish us and then pay us slave wages. They will only create jobs when we get paid much less.
+29 # in deo veritas 2012-12-07 19:15
Thesew bastards are as low as they go. They are enemies of the USA, especially those people unfortunate enough to live in Michigan. Is there no provision for recall? If so get on the stick and use it. The Koches better enjoy their moment of in famy. It would end sooner than they think if we had a real government in DC.
+20 # Barbara K 2012-12-07 19:47
in deo veritas: I can answer your question. Yes, there is recall in Michigan. We have more than enough signatures on recall petitions to recall the dictator governor, but the Rs claim that the Font is too small. It isn't, but it has been tied up in court with no action whatever (all Rs there too) for no reason at all, but to stop us from having the vote to recall the crook.
+6 # Eliza D 2012-12-08 08:26
Where is Obama's voice in this "slaughter of the innocents"?l
+5 # rockieball 2012-12-08 13:36
Welcome to Wisconsin. This is what you get when you vote Republican. Bend over spread those cheeks.
0 # TrueAmericanPatriot 2012-12-10 22:33
Quoting Barbara K:
As a Michigan resident, I am appalled at this sneak attack. What this governor and legislators have been doing to Michigan is absolutely horrible. I believe there was election fraud going on here in November; but the Secretary of State is a Republican too, so we most likely won't get any justice from him. I hope the voters smarten up in 2 years, the next election chance to get rid of this stain on our state.

Barbara K, I hope your unions in Michigan are keeping the political campaign teams together for the 2013-14 races, like we are here in Ohio. SUCCESS TO YOU ALL!!!. We're already in preparation to boot out Crazy Kasich! KEEP ON PUSHING until they are out!
-42 # abaconw48026 2012-12-07 16:49
I have always had mixed feelings about this because while unions may get better wages for their members, it also makes a floor sweeper in an auto plant to make more money than a person doing the same job in a small factory somewhere.
Michigan would do well to now put together a group to decide what percentage of profit should be paid in various categories as J. Paul Getty did in his plants years ago which resulted in the last strike ever had in his plants. If his profit went up or the costs reduced, a percentage of that went to his employees but it makes no sense to get a raise which causes the cost of living to go up for everyone.
The cost of a new vehicle went up not only because of the economy but also the increase in union demands which were then passed on to the consumer.
+39 # in deo veritas 2012-12-07 19:17
John Paul Getty was a modern day carpetbagger who took advantage of the depression to go out and buy up oil and gas wells for pennies on the dollar. A despicable vulture. The price of things goes up not because of union wages butg because of corporate greed. Corporations are interested only in their stockholders and not the American people. Damn them all.
+5 # rockieball 2012-12-08 13:40
Instead of grumbling and being anti union those other floor sweepers as well as the other nonunion workers should organize to bring themselves up. Not vote anti union politicians (i.e Republicans) into office to bring down the unions and their workers to the nonunion level of poverty.
+48 # bobby t. 2012-12-07 17:28
basically it is a right to work for less. this has happened in every state that has this "right to work" rule. it is another way to stop organized labor and their political power and money. soon there will be a right to change from a woman to a man and eliminate all women.i worked in florida, a "right to work" state, and the law was used to kill the labor movement here. as a teacher, my union only represented a third or less of the teachers. the non-union teachers let us bargain for their raises and they did not have to pay dues which of cause were much higher because of the lack of help from the "free loaders".. this is what happens. the unions are forced to become "company unions" because they do not have the strike power as most of the non dues people would be scabs. so much for fairness. Even teachers are so dumb as to not belong to a union in order to save a few bucks. it is reflected in the salaries around the state. we have the fourth highest per cap income, and one of the lowest salary schedules in the country. the entire south are still slaves because of this rule. so much for the freedom involved. free to work for less!
+39 # Barbara K 2012-12-07 17:50
bobby t.: You have got that right. The only right to it is the right to work for less, the right to be fired for no reason, the right to have no safety measures, the right to have to work Holidays for same pay, the right to not get time off for the Holidays, the right to work week-ends and Sundays with no overtime pay and just work 7 days a week, the right to not have health care, the right to not have a retirement check upon retirement, the right to never be able to retire, etc., etc. Oh, yes, the right not make a livable wage.
+1 # mozartssister 2012-12-09 11:45
Absolutely correct, Barbara K. I watched first hand the indignities heaped on friends after Indiana became a work to right state, which would be better termed a right to exploit state. Such indignities culminated in a long-time worker being terminated for being two minutes late to work one morning, shortly after--as happened with so many of his co-workers--his salary reached $17/hour instead of the $14 new workers (skilled journeymen all) were regularly hired in at. It is truly a race to the bottom.
+21 # in deo veritas 2012-12-07 19:21
And the benefits won by those who put their jobs on the line to secure better conditions for all are never turned down by the scabs. I saw a lot of this during my 36 years in education and could not respect them or trust them. Of course about all the non-union ones had a second income from a well-heeled spouse.
+27 # Smiley 2012-12-07 18:14
Another blow to the economy. Workers pay goes down and their expenses go up. They have less money to buy stuff. Demand for products goes down. It's just a downward spiral for the majority of the country.
+11 # MidwestTom 2012-12-07 18:33
General Motors now makes 70% of their cars outside of this country. The WSJ ran a story last week that Mexican auto plants are working around the clock as fast as they can. Visit Kendallville , Indiana, which is right on the border with Michigan and see the giant industrial park, while the Michigan side is green fields. Toyota and Honda build cars in the US for 10 to 25 percent less than the big three. I do not like to see falling wages, but the fact is that thanks to the way the big banks and the Fed have managed our currency we are slowly becoming a much poorer nation for the unskilled. Strikes and demonstrations will not stop this trend. Until we correct the financial system, expect more slippage in living standards, especially for the unskilled. Every American who is driving a Toyota, Honda, or the new Fiats is contributing to the downfall of the Michigan marriage to the unions.
+6 # MidwestDick 2012-12-07 21:13
Michigan is having excellent employment growth relative to it neighbors.The manufacturing sector is quite vibrant. Union jobs lift all boats, even the yachts. Northern Ohio and northern Indiana are, relative to other places, union strongholds. I question the accuracy of your insight.
+11 # MidwestDick 2012-12-07 20:50
In order to keep peace with their current members and keep their companies competitive,the UAW agreed to much lower wages for starting workers. These new employees are now free to leave the Union which was not been able to protect them from lowballing on the wage front. One more clever and destructive gambit by the demented owner class.
Why do business leaders in Michigan despise the people who make them rich? Why do you see them beating down their loyal, motivated and skilled workers whenever they get a chance. Something is broken in the American business leadership. They are morally bereft.
It is bewildering. Our forebears bequeathed us wealth and government institutions to maintain it, but the current business practices are designed to burn it up in order to produce a little extra heat for a few.
Perhaps we are just too wealthy and too numerous. Perhaps the rot at the top is just a disease caused by the enormous distance that the size and complexity of our enterprises puts between us and the ambitious ones who pull the levers of power.
This modern complex mass of social interactions cannot continue if the rot at the top persists. Yet how can you blame the lunatic when his dementia raises him above his fellows and gives him great wealth?
Wow! Rick Snyder. What a wretched and awful creature. What a slimy trick? But he's just fulfilling a fate that the structure of our modern world has opened up for him. (No more letters left, bye)
+12 # giraffee2012 2012-12-07 21:11
The Supreme Court should retract their 2010 Citizen's United Decision and then also decide if these Koch tactics are Constitutional. There is no bloody way that anyone buying a law is constitutional - so let the RATS be accountable.

We have the vote and although WI seems to have been captured by the Koch for reasons that seem illogical in that they have enough $$ to retire. But the RATS gave these creeps enough rope to try to be King of USA. Why? $$$$ - I hope Scalia/Thomas go during the next 4 years. They are bought and make no move to hide this fact.

When John Paul Stevens retired at age 95 (or so) I cried because he was the last of the very very honest and true justices we've ever had on the U.S. Supreme Court. Ginsberg and others are good too but Stevens was (is) my hero
+4 # sapereaudeprime 2012-12-07 21:16
So what makes the Koch brothers immune to vigilantism?
+2 # MidwestDick 2012-12-07 22:47
I heard that Michael Dell spends 1.8 million per year on his personal security. With the Koch magic Christian penchant for spreading around the filthy lucre, I'm sure they have a massive operation. In short, they're innocculated$$$ .
+14 # Anarchist 23 2012-12-07 23:13
Well there is always the USSR's workers' slogan:'You pretend to pay us and we pretend to work.' the despicable action by Snyder and his henchmen is reminiscent of what the Gaulieters did in Germany under the Third Reich-taking away peoples elected governments and putting in designated ;'rulers' who belonged to the Nazi party. Snyder is also dong that by deposing various elected governments and bringing in unelected 'financial managers' Face it folks-you now live in a Fascist country. Just because they aren't shooting you in the streets yet-just macing you outside your own Statehouse-does not mean that you are not becoming powerless, poor, and throw-away. Just ask the various populations of our latest disasters-Gulf coast residents, New Orleans IDPs (Internally Displaced Persons) and now the poor, young and elderly people who are now homeless and heatless after Hurricane Sandy in NY and NJ. Or the ranchers and farmers dispossessed and poisoned by fracking. I could go on, but if you haven't realized it by now, you never will. Yes I know the myths of our 'free' country are many but myths don't pay the bills, heat the house, send your children to college. If you don't know whee you are, you can't map out a route to get you where you are going.
+3 # walt 2012-12-08 08:26
This kind of legislative behavior is pushing the country toward outright revolt.
How shameful it all is and designed by big money to hurt workers.
+5 # wrodwell 2012-12-08 17:25
Wait a minute! Is not America a "Union"? Are we not all citizens of this "Union"? Wasn't the Civil War fought to "Preserve The Union"? If we all belong to this Greater Union whose purpose is to enhance and protect the collective good, how come unions who embody such principles are being marginalized and weakened? As collective "unionists", we can only conclude that such orchestrated attacks by anti-union forces are un-American. Were it not for strong unions and small business owners, there never would have been a Middle Class. However, it's no surprise that as the power of unions waned and the percentage of union workers has declined, the Middle Class has shrunk and as a result, the income gap between workers and the ultra-rich has increased dramatically. Therefore, corrupt, un-American politicians like those who whore themselves for the benefit of the Koch Brothers and their libertarian agenda, should be pilloried and expunged from office.
Michigan is just the latest example of union-busting by the usual suspects - Republicans, the party that fanatically works for and protects the wealthy - and it probably won't be the last assault either unless The American People realize that if the freedom to protect ourselves from exploitation, selfishness and greed is taken from us, we'll devolve into a nation of surfs ruled by Plutocrats. It's already bad enough now. So, America, wake up - or get really screwed.
0 # Regina 2012-12-08 23:36
We were once a country of slave-holders, including such historic leaders as Thomas Jefferson. How do we define "American"? And how firm is the outcome of the Civil War (aka "The War Between the States") when a slew of current states are petitioning for secession? Meanwhile, in Republican governors' states, the people are already serfs ruled by plutocrats, notably Michigan.
0 # charsjcca 2012-12-08 22:26
People power is about not cooperating with the cannibal. To debate a cannibal is to acknowledge their superior power. If there is no market for their products and services these entities will close their doors. Then the point is moot.

If this is a serious issue the people know what to do. Why worry about a school system or garbage collection. Let it fall under its won wait. If we do not create garbage there is no need for collection-recy cle everything or bury it. Otherwise, remain a victim.
+2 # fredmac 2012-12-09 14:27
Michigan voters: Where are your brains? And you wonder why you are not seeing increases in your pay? These Republicans are working against your best interests. Are you not paying attention? You are licking their boots and they're kicking your ass. Pay attention! These pricks are not working for you; get rid of them. Soon.
-6 # Doc E 2012-12-09 17:54
Good!! The unions have outlived their use. I'm curious about all of the UNION jobs lost due to the environmental movement, yet the leaders support those who kill their jobs!!
0 # giraffee2012 2012-12-10 15:53
The Koch and GOP/TP are out to kill America and the prosperity that could exist under a true democracy - Kill the United States Supreme Court's Citizen's United Decision - that was designed to give out rights to big $$. Time for Scalia/Thomas, Alito, and Roberts to retire - they are bought and paid for and thus have violated their "oath" -- get the RATS out.

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