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Common sense

Michigan govt signs right-to-work plan limiting union powers; violence and assaults break out

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LANSING, Mich. — Two laws that would weaken union power in the labour stronghold of Michigan awaited the governor’s expected signature after the Republican-dominated House of Representatives passed them Tuesday, a devastating and once unthinkable defeat for organized labour in a state considered a cradle of the union movement.

The House passed the anti-union bills Tuesday as hundreds of protesters shouted “shame on you” from the gallery and huge crowds of labour backers massed in the state capitol halls and on the grounds. Gov. Rick Snyder says he will sign the laws — one dealing with private sector workers, the other with government employees — as early as Wednesday.

Foes of the laws, including President Barack Obama, are trying to keep the spotlight on this latest battleground in the war over union rights. Democrats offered a series of amendments, one of which would have allowed a statewide referendum. All were swiftly rejected.

“This is the nuclear option,” Democratic Rep. Doug Geiss. “This is the most divisive issue that we have had to deal with. And this will have repercussions. And it will have personal hard feelings after this is all said and done.”

Once the bills are enacted, it will mark another defeat for the labour movement in the industrial Great Lakes region, known as the Rust Belt for its once-booming manufacturing sector. Michigan, the centre of the U.S. auto industry, will become the 24th right-to-work state, banning requirements that nonunion employees pay unions for negotiating contracts and other services.

“This is about freedom, fairness and equality,” Republican House Speaker Jase Bolger said. “These are basic American rights — rights that should unite us.”

In recent years, legislatures in states like Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin have been taken over by an aggressive Republican majority that vowed to curtail union rights. Even with the outcome considered a foregone conclusion, the heated battle showed no sign of cooling as lawmakers prepared to cast final votes.

Hundreds of protesters flooded the state capitol hours before the House and Senate convened, chanting and whistling in the chilly darkness. Others joined a three-block march to the building, some wearing coveralls and hard hats.

Sen. John Proos, a Republican who voted for the right-to-work bills when they cleared the state Senate last week, said opponents had a right to voice their anger but predicted it would fade as the shift in policy brings more jobs to Michigan.

In an interview with WWJ-AM, Snyder said he expects the bills to be on his desk later this week. He said the intention is to give workers a choice, not to target unions.

“This is about being pro-worker,” Snyder said.

In other states, similar battles were drawn-out affairs lasting weeks. But Snyder, a business executive-turned-governor, and the Republican-dominated Legislature used their political muscle to rapidly introduce and force legislation through the House and Senate in a single day last week. Demonstrators and Democrats howled in protest, but to no avail.

On Tuesday, asked about the speed at which the legislation moved forward, Snyder said the issue wasn’t rushed and that the question of whether to make Michigan a right-to-work state has long been discussed.

For all the shouting, the actual benefit or harm of such laws is not clear. Each camp has pointed to studies bolstering their claims, but one labour expert said the conclusions are inconclusive.

“Very little is actually known about the impact of right-to-work laws,” Gary Chaison, a professor of labour relations at Clark University in Massachusetts, said Monday. “There’s a lot of assumptions that they create or destroy jobs, but the correlation is not definite.”

Democrats contend Republicans, who lost five Michigan House seats in the November election, wanted to act before a new legislature takes office next month. In passionate floor speeches last week, they accused the majority of ignoring the message from voters and bowing to right-wing interest groups. But they acknowledged there was little they could do to stop the fast-moving legislation.

Obama highlighted the issue during his visit Monday to an engine plant in Michigan.

“These so-called right-to-work laws, they don’t have anything to do with economics, they have everything to do with politics,” Obama told cheering workers. “What they’re really talking about is giving you the right to work for less money.”

http://news.nationalpost.com/2012/12/11/michigan-approves-controversial-right-to-work-plan-to-limit-power-of-unions-despite-protests/

And of course, the leftists are at it again:

There will be blood, promises the Michigan HoR Democratic caucus Twitter account before deleting their own tweet:

http://twitchy.com/2012/12/11/as-union-violence-escalates-mich-house-dems-delete-tweet-promising-there-will-be-blood/

700584254.png?key=517379&Expires=1355269081&Key-Pair-Id=APKAIYVGSUJFNRFZBBTA&Signature=DaNmIdog8nd099PlZGor97my~W9keO1FGlfkw3jSABPKlZidTXv38eVlYwEfGPzZqBLyXG03sR6I5oLKuzHMi5EFVsN-x9-8P8i4ZNZZvlQlxOzI9G8dYTFFpkhZ3kzxi~Lr2pz9sdy4DNnRXNM~~ls2cWFmNsadFCDYUYpWwQk_

Of course, there was blood as promised, through the violence inside the Americans for Prosperity tents, as tent organizers are attacked, threats uttered, and the tent forcefully torn down:

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I say again simply because this isn't the first time the left condoned violence in the veiled name of "labour," and sadly this won't be the last.

To say childish, mindless, and stereotypical is to also include the folks ransacking the AFP tent and threatening people inside said tent with weapons. Sorry if you cannot swallow that truth, but those that preached the message of fair labour also turned around and acted in a juvenile manner to their counterparts, going so far as to call for blood.

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Unfortunate that some people give unions a bad name. We should not lump the all union members with those thugs. Shame!

That being said: Right to work in practice means a right to work for less. But Right to Work does not eliminate the role of unions in the workplace. People in Michigan, and all Right to Work states, still have the right to organize and be represented by a union. What they cannot do is force a person to join the union as a condition of employment, nor can they charge the person union dues to in order to work there. In other words, where there are contracts in place or are collectively bargained in the future, people who are not members of the union are covered by the provisions/benefits of a collective bargaining agreement, and they are still entitled to union representation even without contributing to the union. And that is the union's real problem. It hurts by cutting of the union's only revenue source.

Further, and unlike Canada, because of federal law called Taft-Hartley, in the US there is no such law mandating a closed union shop even in a non-right to work state--closed shop in Canada allows means that employer can only hire union members. In those states, which are union shop states, anyone hired is required to join the union and pay dues as a condition of employment. That is why the electrical workers from Alabama were not allowed to continue in Hurricane Sandy's recovery because they refused to pay dues owed to the electrical union in New Jersey.

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I'm not saying that people should go out and hurt other people because that would be terribly wrong. But I would not be upset if at the end of all this there were some seriously maimed politicians.

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Unfortunate that some people give unions a bad name. We should not lump the all union members with those thugs. Shame!

That being said: Right to work in practice means a right to work for less. But Right to Work does not eliminate the role of unions in the workplace. People in Michigan, and all Right to Work states, still have the right to organize and be represented by a union. What they cannot do is force a person to join the union as a condition of employment, nor can they charge the person union dues to in order to work there. In other words, where there are contracts in place or are collectively bargained in the future, people who are not members of the union are covered by the provisions/benefits of a collective bargaining agreement, and they are still entitled to union representation even without contributing to the union. And that is the union's real problem. It hurts by cutting of the union's only revenue source.

Further, and unlike Canada, because of federal law called Taft-Hartley, in the US there is no such law mandating a closed union shop even in a non-right to work state--closed shop in Canada allows means that employer can only hire union members. In those states, which are union shop states, anyone hired is required to join the union and pay dues as a condition of employment. That is why the electrical workers from Alabama were not allowed to continue in Hurricane Sandy's recovery because they refused to pay dues owed to the electrical union in New Jersey.

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OK, the new law means you don't have to join a union in order to be employed, nor pay union dues, but you are still covered under a union contract? So the new employees get all the benefits without the pain of union dues? So why are the rank and file members protesting when it is the union leadership who is going to suffer. Without union dues its the union leaders who is going suffer a pay cut.

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I'm not saying that people should go out and hurt other people because that would be terribly wrong. But I would not be upset if at the end of all this there were some seriously maimed politicians.

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This has to do with removing money from the unions so that they can not help democrats. End of story. On top of that it also limits the Unions ability to pay for lawyers to fight corporations. It's times like this that you understand why it took Mobsters to set up the union. I'm looking forward to seeing some unhappy people do some interesting things.

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Labor versus management in the USA has historically involved violence .. on both sides .. if you tallied up lives lost due to labor strife, I am sure one would find that labor has seen many more funerals than the hired strike breakers and scabs ..

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Labor versus management in the USA has historically involved violence .. on both sides .. if you tallied up lives lost due to labor strife, I am sure one would find that labor has seen many more funerals than the hired strike breakers and scabs ..

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If by true you mean that people characterize large groups of people into simple, childish, meaningless boxes so that they can avoid actual discussion about the issues by lumping everyone into said boxes, then yes, that is sad.

If by true you mean there actually are 'leftists' or there actually is a uniform 'left', then you're a liar.

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Sure.

It's ironic that we decry the violence when it is violence that forces unions to exist in the first place. They are far from perfect, but necessary.

If employers paid fair wages, benefits, etc...unions wouldn't be necessary. Unions are borne out of bad employers. Unions do take on a life on their own, and there are definite negatives to them, but they are a product of bad employers. So, blaming the unions for protecting bad employees, bloated this or that--all fair game. But if you want to actually get to the root of the problem, ask yourself why we need unions at all.

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