Photo: Joe Richard
LANSING, Mich. — More than 17,000 workers from all walks of life rallied yesterday outside the Michigan State Capitol building as anti-worker legislators heeded Gov. Rick Snyder’s call to divide Michigan by ramming through a so-called “right-to-work” bill which promises to kill jobs, lower wages, crush workers’ rights and unravel the middle class.
BCTGM members from throughout Michigan, including Locals 326 (Detroit), 3G (Battle Creek), 259G (Carrollton), 260G (Caro), 261G (Sebewaing), 262G (Croswell) and 263G (Bay City) participated in the massive march and demonstration.
Snyder, who misled the public by announcing he would sign the bill Wednesday, waited until the thousands who had gathered outside the capital returned home before calling a last-minute press conference and bill signing on Tuesday night.
Earlier this year, Snyder called the legislation “divisive” and “not part of his agenda.” Now, after his party lost seats in the Michigan House of Representatives, Snyder rushed the bill through in just six days, with no public hearing. The bill reverse decades of balanced labor law in Michigan, which has yielded stable industrial relations, good middle-class jobs, and broadly shared prosperity. Studies have shown that workers in so-called “right to work” states earn an average of $1,500 less annually.
Continued citizen protests are expected throughout the state in coming days and months. Workers are weighing political, legal and legislative options as well, including putting the measure on the ballot in 2014 (the same year that Snyder is up for re-election), a move similar to what Ohio voters did in 2011 when they overturned an anti-worker law championed by their governor.
“The so-called ‘right to work’ laws have never fostered employment, but they do bring out the worst kind of divisiveness. Gov. Snyder knows this is true. He publicly acknowledged this reality for years, and yet ultimately he chose to ignore it and embrace extreme politics under the guise of a job creation agenda,” notes AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka.
“But working people are resilient – and just like we’ve patiently worked together to rebuild after the Great Recession, we will continue to come together to say ‘no’ to overreach and to oppose this radical governor and state legislature. And we will continue to work for policies to put America back on track with good jobs and shared prosperity, because working people have always been the solution, not the problem,” concludes Trumka.
What ‘Right to Work’ Really Means for Real People:
- Average worker makes $1,540 less per year
- Median household income $6,437 less
- 28% more people lack health insurance
- Average poverty rate is 18% higher
- Rate of workplace death is 36% higher