House and Senate pass versions of ‘right-to-work’; adjourn until Tuesday

Following this morning’s announcement by Gov. Snyder and Republican legislative leaders about their support of so-called “right-to-work” legislation, the state House and Senate took swift action in passing bills implementing the deceptive, flawed concept for both public and private sector workers.

Both chambers amended existing bills to include language allowing workers to choose not to pay their fair share of the costs of negotiating their contract. The bills legalize freeloading, which pits workers against one another and gives corporate special interests an even greater advantage in being able to cut wages and benefits.

In the House, HB 4054 was amended and passed by a vote of 58-52 to implement “right-to-work” for private sector workers.  Six Republicans (Forlini, Goike, Horn, McBroom, Sommerville and Zorn) voted no along with all Democrats.

On the Senate side, both public and private sector workers were attacked -- SB 116 and HB 4003 were passed with 22 Republican votes each, with four Republicans (Rocca, Casperson, Nofs and Green) voting no. Senate Democrats all voted against SB 116 -- all 12 chose not to vote on HB 4003 in protest. Local police and fire employees, as well as state police, were exempted.

Passionate speeches, angry outbursts, huge crowds of protesters and an unprecedented lock-down of the Capitol building were all part of this sad day in Lansing.

For several hours in the afternoon, lawmakers closed the Capitol from accepting any more occupants, citing fire code and structural concerns with the large crowd.  However, photos taken during the afternoon showed the building largely empty.  A court order was eventually heeded and citizens were allowed back into the building – only after House Democrats walked out of the building and vowed not to re-enter until the public was able to join them inside.

The bills passed today for action next week.  Contrary to announcements earlier in the day about session being held all weekend, both chambers adjourned until Tuesday.

MEA President Steve Cook released a media statement decrying this latest attack on Michigan’s working families

“Let’s be clear. This legislation is not about improving the economy or creating jobs—this is political payback that puts big corporations and special-interest CEOs before Michigan’s working families,” Cook said. 

“Worst of all is the utter lies about what this does. No one is forced to join a union – that’s already illegal. This allows workers to get out of paying their fair share of what it costs to negotiate the contract they benefit from.  Whether proponents call this ‘right-to-work’ or ‘freedom-to-work’, it’s really just ‘Freedom to Freeload.’”

[Cook can be heard Friday on national radio on both the Ed Schultz Show at 1 p.m. and the Alan Colmes Show at 10:15 p.m.]

Earlier in the afternoon, the White House released a statement about President Obama’s long-standing opposition to the laws. 

"The President believes our economy is stronger when workers get good wages and good benefits, and he opposes attempts to roll back their rights,” said White House spokesperson Matt Lehrich. “Michigan – and its workers' role in the revival of the US automobile industry – is a prime example of how unions have helped build a strong middle class and a strong American economy."

With Gov. Snyder and the Republican Legislature putting Michigan on the same divisive political path as Wisconsin and Ohio, protests and further actions are sure to follow over the coming days. Stay tuned to www.mea.org on Friday for details.  In the meantime, continue to contact Gov. Snyder and lawmakers and express your anger at the attack they are leveling against you and your family.