15,000 union and non-union Michiganders gathered at the Michigan State Capitol in Lansing to express opposition to the so-called “right to work” bills being considered inside.
Those voices remained unheeded by the legislators inside. From the Lansing State Journal:
Within three hours today, House Republicans approved two bills that give right-to-work for both public and private employees, despite objections from Democratic lawmakers and thousands of protesters at the Capitol.
Unlike the similar situation with Ohio in 2011, Michigan legislators have subverted democracy and inserted an appropriation in that “right to work” cannot be repealed by referendum.
Or can it? The Washington Post’s Greg Sargent explains another option:
According to one good government group’s analysis of the state constitution, there exists the option of the “statutory initiative,” which would be forced by the collecting of signatures equal to at least eight percent of the votes cast in the last gubernatorial election.
Will unions and Michigan Democrats avail themselves of this option? Eddie Vale, a spokesman for the labor-funded Workers’ Voice, which played a big role in the Ohio and Wisconsin labor wars, tells me it’s being seriously considered. “The Michigan Constitution allows two other ways to let the people decide this issue on the ballot, and whether it’s one of those options or the 2014 Governor’s election itself, Michiganders will be heard loud and clear,” Vale says.
The anti-worker legislators and their well-monied donors may be cheering today’s events. But here are the facts: when the people of a state have the opportunity to vote on these anti-worker measures by referendum, or when they have the opportunity to hold politicians accountable, workers win.
We showed that in Ohio, when Senate Bill 5 was repealed by a 2-to-1 margin. We showed that in 2012 when Wall Street’s favorite presidential candidate Mitt Romney was defeated in a landslide, and Wall Street’s favorite Senator Scott Brown was removed from office by a similar margin. )Mitt Romney, by the way, endorsed a national “right to work” law.)
In Minnesota and Maine last year, Republicans tried to pass their own “right to work” bills in 2011. In the 2012 election, Republicans in those states lost both houses of the legislature. New Hampshire voters tossed out an incredible 115 Republican House members – flipping the chamber – and 6 State Senators in response to that state’s “right to work” push.
American voters, be they Republican, Democrat, or Independent, don’t support the ideological destruction of labor unions that is dogma among right-wing billionaires like Dick DeVos and David and Charles Koch. Above all, voters of all stripes want their leaders to take action on the issues they care about – jobs, health care, and education – instead of greedily consolidating their power and enacting political retribution on their opponents.
And when voters get the opportunity, they speak loudly and clearly against this kind of behavior. We will be doing what we can to ensure that Michigan voters get that chance.