Union Violence and Mob Mayhem in Michigan

Yesterday, in a move many considered impossible in a state characterized as the “cradle” of America’s organized labor movement, Michigan became the 24th right-to-work state in the nation. Gov. Rick Snyder signed two bills, one dealing with private sector workers and the other with government employees, hours after the state House passed both measures.

Leading up to the historic moment, the reaction of the pro-union crowd, numbering around 10,000 by late afternoon, was predictably thuggish. The mob destroyed an Americans For Prosperity tent on the lawn of the Michigan State Capitol. An invective-filled diatribe followed by a vicious assault on Fox News contributor and conservative comedian Steven Crowder was captured on camera. 26,000 children missed school because their teachers called in sick, or took a vacation day, to join the protests. Police in riot gear clashed with angry demonstrators, even as some union members shouted “traitors” at the officers. Two arrests were made. Even a legislator, Democrat Douglas Geiss, behaved like a mobster. “There will be blood,” he threatened as he stood on the floor of the Michigan House of Representatives.

Unions and their supporters may be furious, but they have no one but themselves to blame. Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder explained. “I asked [the unions] not to go forward,” Snyder said. “And the reason I said is, ‘You’re going to start a very divisive discussion. It’ll be about collective bargaining first, but it’ll create a big stir about right-to-work in addition to collective bargaining.’” Snyder is referring to an effort by unions to enshrine collective bargaining rights in the state’s constitution during the last election. Such a move would have completely insulated unions from any attempt by the legislature, barring a constitutional amendment, to enact a right-to-work law. Proposition 2, as it was dubbed, failed spectacularly, with 58 percent of the voters rejecting the measure in the same state Barack Obama won handily on November 6.

Before that effort took place, Snyder had asked the legislature to hold back on a right-to-work measure because “it would be a divisive issue, and it’s not something we should debate,” said Representative Jase Bolger, speaker of the Michigan House. Bolger and his fellow lawmakers initially honored the governor’s request. Snyder was apparently also prepared to deal with the frustration illuminated by Detroit Free Press columnist Tom Walsh, who contended the Governor was upset by union opposition to stricter emergency manager laws that would enable swifter action to rescue cities and school districts that had bungled their way to the brink of insolvency. Walsh cited Detroit as an example. The city is on the verge of bankruptcy, due in large part to union intransigence. Yet all of it might have remained status quo–until Big Labor decided to go for the kill.

Greg McNeilly, who runs Michigan Freedom Fund, a political action committee in favor of right-to-work legislation, noted the connection between the defeat of Proposition 2, and a GOP-controlled legislature emboldened by that defeat. “[UAW president] Bob King put this on the agenda,” McNeilly contended. “He threatened this state. He tried to bully and intimidate the state with this disastrous proposal that was so bad a majority of his members didn’t even back it. The whole state had a conversation. They lost,” he added.

In an interview, King blamed the defeat on the Koch brothers and multimillionaire conservative activist Dick DeVos, describing them as wealthy benefactors who “bullied and bought their way to get this legislation in Michigan.”

Hardly. Despite being a state where 17.5 percent of workers are still unionized, compared to a nationwide average of 11.8 percent, several polls taken in the state over the last few years reveal an electorate decidedly in favor of a law that guarantees no one can be forced to join a union, or pay union dues or a fee to cover costs associated with union bargaining, as a condition of employment.

Furthermore, the electorate may have noticed what occurred in the neighboring state of Indiana, when it became a right-to-work state last February: the state moved up 18 rankings to 5th place on the Pollina Corp.’s Top Pro-Business States List, attracting 90 new companies willing to do business there. Michigan, by contrast, is ranked 35th in overall prosperity as measured by per capita income, has the nation’s sixth highest state jobless rate at 9.1 percent, and has had one of the lowest rates of personal income growth from 1977-2011. An analysis by the Taxpayers Protection Alliance reveals that if Michigan had adopted right-to-work laws in 1977, per capita income for a family of four would have been $13,556 higher by 2008.

None of it matters to the unionists and their supporters, who converged on Lansing in an attempt to intimidate lawmakers. Even Democrats in the Michigan Congressional delegation, who met privately with Snyder on Monday, attempted to intimidate the Governor, promising him years of “discord and division” if he signed the bill. And just as they attempted to do in Wisconsin, labor leaders are talking about staging recall elections for Republican legislators and Gov. Snyder. They are inspired by what occurred last year in Ohio, where Democrat activists successfully overturned a measure to curb collective bargaining. In Michigan however, spending bills cannot be overturned via referendum. Since an appropriation measure was added to the bill, a referendum to overturn it becomes impossible.

On Monday, President Obama weighed in on the legislation. “What we shouldn’t be doing is try to take away your rights to bargain for better wages and working conditions,” he said. “We don’t want a race to the bottom.” Right-to-work laws “have nothing to do with economics and they have everything to do with politics,” Obama added. “They mean you have the right to work for less money.”

No one is taking away anyone’s right to collectively bargain. This law simply curbs the power of union bosses to extract dues from those workers who don’t wish to pay them. But the president is correct when he says there is political aspect to this legislation. Mark Mix, president of the National Right to Work Committee, illuminates the obvious connection. “President Obama was the recipient of literally hundreds of millions of dollars from union officials,” he says. “If union officials can’t compel union workers to pay dues as a condition of their employment, the fees that they use for political activity would dry up very quickly.”

As well they should. Nothing illustrates this better than an “education” video produced by the California Teachers’ union that depicts “the rich” urinating on “the poor.” It is exactly this kind of over-the-top propaganda that is underwritten by union dues–even as the individual teachers’ political beliefs are rendered totally irrelevant in the process. And make no mistake: it is the loss of union leaders’ power to shape a political agenda, underwritten by the coercion of mandatory dues, that scares those leaders the most.

When Wisconsin did away with mandatory dues, 6,000 out of 17,000 members of the American Federation of Teachers–Wisconsin left its ranks. More than 30,000 out of 68,218 members also opted out of that Wisconsin’s chapter of AFSCME, the union that represents state, county, and municipal workers. In other words, when union “solidarity” becomes voluntary, it becomes far less solid.

Michigan joins 23 other states that prize individual freedom and genuine economic prosperity for struggling workers. Absolutely nothing is preventing unions from making their case to workers in Michigan. In reality, it now becomes necessary for them to do so, in order to keep as many dues-paying members as possible. Nonetheless, UAW president Bob King characterized the passages of the right-to-work laws as a “deep disappointment.” “Symbolically, it’s a huge setback,” he said in an interview. “Practically, maybe no. Maybe it will awaken a sleeping giant.” That’s exactly what happened on election day, when the “sleeping giant” known as the public was awakened by union arrogance and overreach. That overreach led directly to the passage of right-to-work legislation.

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  • κατεργάζομαι

    The devil must be in the details when anyone in Detroit – (pronounced De-TWA)- is reported as,
    ~ "fighting for their right to work."

  • Arlie

    I applaud the governor the the State of Michigan. Looks like his legislation is more air-tight than Scott Walkers. I hope and pray that ALL governors will wake up and take their state's back from Federal control. The 10th amendment is a wonderful thing. Get the Unions out of the government all the bosses are communists. Stop UN Agenda 21. Take our country back from the Communists and Islamists before it's too late. Wake Up America or we will be gulag bound. Time to beat the Feds back to their 10 sq miles of DC. The only power they should have is to PROTECT us and our property.

  • Roy

    "Mob Mayhem in Michigan" .the Pistons are 7 and 17 this year, so maybe the mob violence meant that some new sports shoe is newly offered for sale.

  • Mary Sue

    This is what happens when greedy leftists go too far and grasp for too much too quickly.

  • kafir4life

    This supports my policy of avoiding goods and services from union run companies. Although you can't realistically do it completely, it's getting easier as time goes on. One method is to frequent union web sites. They typically have lists of companies to avoid (typically titled "fellow union"), as well as companies to patronize (typically titled "scab" or "non-union"). You can simulate purchasing union made crap by taking the money they would charge for the product and tearing 80% of it up into little pieces, send15% to President Stinky (BO) or any other democrat politician, and the other 5% into an account for the union leadership. Then you find the biggest, steamiest, stinkiest (no relation to the president) pile of dog poop, and showing your friends "Lookie what I bought". If you started with 50k, you can say "lookie….I got me a Chevy Volt".

  • john spielman

    This is legislation is excellent but must include workers rights, such as if forced to work overtime they are paid time and a half ect. The pendulum must not be allowed to swing to far that the workers are exploited by greedy company ceos and share holders. The Bible warns aginst witholdind fair pay for fair work (see the letter from JAMES, chapter 5).

    • davarino

      What? The EEOC will take care of the time and a half issue. That has nothing to do with Right to Work. The only issue here is the over reach of the union bosses. It used to be management that had the strangle hold, now its the unions.

      • Jean

        Bear in mind that unions first arose because workers were treated abusively. We should, and do, celebrate Michigan's new status as a right-to-work state, but I live in a right-to-work state and know from experience that work schedules can be manipulated so that an employee works overtime without having to be paid overtime.

        • tagalog

          Odd how such manipulative employers can get around the federal Fair Labor Standards Act. How do they do that?

          But you have a point about the unions objecting to right-to-work laws as giving employers a chance to weed the union employees out and replace them with non-union employees. But I guess that's the way it is in a free market. If employers get too oppressive, workers can always opt to join the unions, right?

          Oh wait, maybe all those illegal, unskilled immigrants will take their jobs for no bennies and fifty cents an hour. Better beef up the immigration laws.

    • Gislef

      Have you noticed such problems in existing right-to-work states?

      • JoJoJams

        Of course not. It's just the usual leftish argument, using an extreme example, which generally never happens. As already stated, time and a half over 40 hours is already a "right" for hourly employees. Salaried employes are another story…. These are generally the managerial class that quite often "have" to put in many hours over 40 a week, if they wish to move up the corporate ladder.

  • pierce

    Without of doubt, the best part is, it came a day after our beloved leader appeared in Michigan on behalf of the Unions, and their insistence that in order to work, you must be a union member. Hopefully there will be no recall effort, like there was in Wisconsin. Congratulations Gov. Snyder for doing the right thing.

  • JacksonPearson

    Fox news contributor Steven Crowder got punched, but labor got the black eye. Despicable.

  • STEVE CHAVEZ

    THE MARXIST MAFIAS ARE SHOWING THEIR TRUE FACE!

    Imagine if the Tea Party had done the same and said "THERE WILL BE BLOOD!" I'm sure the Gov., on orders from Obama, would have called out the National Guard. Many Leftists are saying "this is Democracy in action" even with the violence.

    What if the Tea Party took over a state building anywhere in the U.S.?

    • Asher

      Yes, and who is condoing that state ment..There will be blood.. The President of the United States..sure tarnishes his record.

    • fiddler

      You would never hear the end of it. We have to do something about the media who chooses what and what not is news worthy. We need more competing stations. Give people more chose about the news they watch. The want to be told the truth.

  • Mike

    This is "spread the wealth" in reverse and of course they want it on someone else but not on themselves.

  • tagalog

    Michigan, the "cradle" of the organized labor movement, is now a right-to-work state. Wow, somebody's been working in the belly of the beast, boring from within. Saul Alinsky would be proud. At least he would be about the principle if not the result.

    "There will be blood." That Douglas Geiss guy has been watching too many movies.

    • kentatwater

      Someone should mail him a bowling pin.

  • kentatwater

    Only leftists would equate being given the freedom to choose whether or not to pay union dues, as a denial of their rights. It is part and parcel of how the left thinks, though. The only "choices" they cotton to, are those involving copulation and the conseqences thereof. Everything else needs to bend its knee to central planning.

  • Ar'nun

    Bail-out nation at it's finest. These Union clowns don't get that when cities and states start to go under there will only be so many that can be bailed out by the Federal Government before the Federal Government needs a bail-out. Once we get to that point, we are doomed.

  • Asher

    This is about choice to join a union or not. Michigan has lost 10,000 or more jobs under these unions. You actually make more money in a Right to work state because you control where your money goes, and that is very good. Employment and Wages are higher in Right to Work States too. Why would one want to join a union after what we saw of tearing down tents with people in them, and getting violent with people..that turns people off, they are not gaining support because of their tactics.

  • Mary Sue

    Someone thinks there's right-to-work in Canada and cited the Rand Formula. I googled it and found out that the Rand formula MAKES you pay Union dues whether or not you are a member of the Union, if you're in a Union Shop workplace. They thought this Michigan stuff was "union busting". I had to set them straight.

  • Ghostwriter

    I'd like a job but I don't want to forced into a union if I don't want to join it. It's as simple as that.

  • UCSPanther

    The Canadian government just passed a law that forces unions to open their books and show their members where the money is going.

    Of course, this is bad new for both the Liberal Party and the NDP (Both are a version of the democrats) because they rely on unions for much of their support.