8 Things to Know About What Happened In Michigan on Tuesday (and 3 Things to Do With Your Anger)

1. The Michigan House passed HB 4003, the “right to work” for public workers. The vote was 58-51. Six Republicans once again joined all the Democrats to vote no.

2. The Michigan House also passed SB 116, which is the Senate version of “right to work” for private sector workers. The vote was 58-52. If the same vote had happened in January 2013 with the new legislature, assuming all incoming Democrats opposed the bill, it would not have passed.


Image by AFL-CIO

3. More than 12,500 union and non-union protesters made their voices heard at the Capitol. 12,500 is the official turnout from the Capitol Committee, but other estimates have the number higher. Either way, this constituted the largest public gathering ever at the Michigan State Capitol in Lansing.

4. Union and non-union protesters were pepper-sprayed. Former Congressman Mark Schauer (R-MI) was among those pepper-sprayed. See video below:

5. Protests were peaceful, but Fox News doctored footage to implicate protesters in violence. Editors at Fox News compiled footage from events that actually took place hours apart, including the takedown of a Koch-funded group’s tent that had remained empty most of the day. Anecdotal reports from the ground were that the protests were peaceful, and that most were concerned about what the “right to work” law would mean for their future. (Chris Savage has more on how the Fox News footage was manipulated.)

6. The Michigan “right to work” bill contains verbatim language from an ALEC model bill. As Salon’s Alex Seitz-Wald reports:

Both Michigan’s HB 4003, which affects public sector unions, and HB 4054, which affects private sector unions, appears to pull language directly from ALEC’s model right-to-work bill

Here’s a chart comparing the language side by side.

7. Governor Rick Snyder signed the “right to work” bills yesterday behind closed doors. Snyder told the Detroit Free Press that the issue was “divisive” and that he didn’t see the need for public ceremony. He said: “It’s one of those things, there were a number of people out protesting. So I don’t see the need to have a public ceremony to over-emphasize that.”

8. As he signed the anti-worker bill, Governor Snyder blamed workers themselves for his reversal. In the 2012 election, Michiganders collected signatures to get a constitutional amendment protecting collective bargaining rights on the ballot, referred to as Proposal 2. The ballot measure failed, but Gov. Snyder used it yesterday as an excuse to flip on “right to work.” He said: “I don’t believe we wouldn’t be standing here in this timeframe if it hadn’t been for Proposal 2 moving ahead.” He did not mention the enormous financial support he’d received from Dick DeVos and the Koch brothers, who ideologically oppose union rights and benefit financially from their absence.

Does this make you mad? Here’s how we recommend you take action:

1. Join Working America. Seems like an obvious request for us to make. But Working America is the place where non-union workers can organize and build solidarity around issues like workers’ rights, jobs, health care, education, and retirement security. Joining our movement of over 3 million members takes only a minute.

2. Spread the word. The name is deceptive. But here are the facts: “Right to work” laws lead to lower wages, lower rates of health insurance, higher poverty rates, and more workplace injuries and fatalities. You can learn more facts at WrongforEveryone.com and share infographics like this one.

3. Stay tuned. There is a possibility Michigan citizens could repeal the “right to work” bill by a state ballot initiative. We will be providing more information as we learn more about his option.