Posted In: Michigan, Uncategorized

17,000 rally against legislation that undermines MI workers, families

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by Brian Washington

With the stroke of a pen, Michigan’s Republican Gov. Rick Snyder has taken a state on the upswing and knocked it off course — forcing hardworking Michiganders and their families down a path that will lead to fewer jobs, lower wages, crumbling communities, and a weaker economy.

Despite intense pressure from workers within and outside the state, Snyder signed into law tonight the so-called “Right-to-Work” bill — which opponents characterize as a gift to wealthy “fat cat” donors like Amway heir Dick DeVos and billionaire CEOs David and Charles Koch, known as the “Koch Brothers,” who are bankrolling anti-worker legislation and elected officials to strip middle-class workers of their voices so they can’t challenge the agenda of the 1 percent.

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The legislation was sent today to Snyder, who flip-flopped last week after previously saying the bill “was not on his agenda,” by a GOP super-majority in the state legislature, which fast-tracked the bill, bypassing any public hearings, and gave it final approval this afternoon.

“It’s disgusting union busting,” shouted 17,000 angry Michigan residents from all across the state who descended upon Lansing beginning early this morning and stormed the Capitol — inside and out — to protest the bill. Workers say the bill is a direct attack upon those who teach our children, keep us healthy, protect our streets, and build our roads and vehicles.

 

Michigan’s Democratic delegation in Congress — including U.S. Sen. Carl Levin — returned home and met with Snyder yesterday to urge the governor to change course on the legislation, but to no avail.

President Barack Obama, who worked with employees and their unions in Michigan to save the auto industry, visited yesterday a plant in Detroit, where he publically blasted state Republican leaders for attacking the rights of hardworking Americans to bargain for better wages and working conditions (see video starting at 12:00).

“We shouldn’t be doing that,” said President Obama, who got a loud round of applause from the crowd. “These so-called ‘right to work’ laws, they don’t have to do with economics; they have everything to do with politics.  What they’re really talking about is giving you the right to work for less money.”

Studies show right to work laws drive down wages for all workers — union and non-union — by an average of $1,500 per year and have destructive consequences. For example, reduced wages can lead to reduced spending on local businesses and fewer jobs, which can harm middle-class families and the communities where they reside.

However, on the flip side, strong unions can bolster the economy with good jobs and grow the middle class. In Michigan, collective bargaining reportedly brought back more than 20,000 jobs to the auto industry.

Opponents of the legislation say they are currently researching and exploring available options to protect the rights of middle-class workers and their families. If you want to get more information about the MI fight to protect workers and their families, click here.

Reader Comments

  1. Kerry Hyman

    The following, to me, is the problem we face, and a possile solution:

    Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) have granted our corporate CEOs and their stockholders access to sweatshops on foreign soil to cut the high wage middle class worker out of the picture with impunity (actually, loopholes, exemptions, credits, etc. written into the tax code, incentivize this offshoring model, introduced back in the 60s when our textile, garment, and shoe factorires left for S. America, then in the late 60s-70s, or toy, electronics, steel left for Japan, but were perfected by sharing graphs and charts in board rooms across the USA, by provideing subsidies to offset liabilities incurred in the cost of setting up factories offshore). Then, these same FTA’s, incessantly lobbied for since the 90′s, allow these cheap products to flood our shores daily in Maersk freighters, capable of carrying 2.2 million train car size “containers” full of this crap, TARIFF FREE, to fleece a declining middle class even as it kicks these workers to the curb with some on the right claiming these practices are actually doing the middle class a favor by providing cheap goods so they can purchase more with less (addictive analogy). Now, the “downward pressure” on wages exerted by Red China’s et al. sweatshops ($1.36/hr. avg. wage), have the GOP eyeing the perfect opportunity to bust the Unions, and make lower wages the norm for the USA middle class..

    The great wage disparity that has occurred over the past 30 years has consolidated wealth at the top like we haven’t seen since the days of the Robber Barons a century ago. Maybe you think that there’s something wrong with a USA that promoted all of its citizens’ prosperity, but I don’t; it’s smart business. A middle class with disposable income will bolster retail sales and crank up the economy (this is if this increase actually boosts production in the USA and results in paychecks going into the pockets of USA workers like it used to do before the middle class was kicked to the curb for sweatshop labor on foreign soil.) Even so, during the past 30 years real output in the business sector grew by 140%. Real compensation per hour (includes wages, benefits, pensions, and health insurance) increased by only 38% for the middle class worker.

    Post WWII, 1947-1979 America shared equally in the increase in output. During those years the increase that the bottom 20% received was 116%, the top 20% got an increase of 99%, and the middle quintiles increased somewhere within that range.

    Then the world flipped! From 1980 to 2007 the rich took practically all the increase in income. Over those decades, the poor received only a 15% increase and the middle three quintiles got a 25% increase, while the top 20% got a 95% increase and the top 1% received a raise of close to 300%, and they were compensated fabulously before this trend began (Paul Heise, PhD, Economics).

    Consider Germany, a nation with its fiscal house in relative order. They impose a 19% tariff on imports to protect their industrial sector without so much as a raised eyebrow from the WTO. Plus this type of protection keeps their largely Unionized middle class wages high, which leads to a prosperous middle class with ample disposable income which is pumped back into the German economy contributing to a reasonable GDP. We don’t do that here, and it shows!

    I have come to the realization, after voting GOP for 30 years, that they will use deceptions like kicking the hornets’ nest of social issues including but not limited to: reproductive rights, Evangelical Christians, gun rights, homosexuality, color, sable rattling, and a myriad of alleged “personal freedoms,” and now “right to work” laws, all types of fear mongering and the use of practiced cries of panic and outrage to divert their base’s attention away from the fact that their first and only true love is to the top, who are using their influence in our legislature to turn American the Beautiful, land of opportunity, into a mere Plutocracy. They have pitted us, one against another with this fear mongering, fanning the flames of our worst human instincts, inciting divisions along party lines, socio-economic lines, and racial lines to keep their base’s attention diverted from the fact that they serve only the top. When this can no longer be denied, the GOP will be in big trouble with the electorate, because they will feel used like yesterday’s newspaper and “hell hath no fury like a woman scorned,” or an electorate that realizes they’ve been used to craft their own demise.

    Reply
  2. Kerry Hyman

    Decent paying jobs should be proiority #1 to invigorate our economy. A middle class with disgressionary spending money will buy, buy, buy, clearing the shelves and cranking up production…. That, to me, is where the problem lies! That our magnificent manufacturing sector has been offshored, and our high wage USA workforce kicked to the curb for cheap labor offshore is a real problem with few solutions. Cranking up production, only increases the capital flow into the pockets of our offshoring “multinational” corporations and say, Red China, not the USA middle class, who’s been by-passed to increase profit margins. (Another problem created for the USA by this “globalization” trend is the effect it is having on our investment and financial sector where a type of addiction to short term profit margins realized by the China derivatives are causing many USA businesses that remain to not only cut costs to the bone to lure investors, but also to increase the lucrative trend of liquidating assets, selling them off to the highest bidder, or by spinning off whole departments, and fractionizing corporations with branches set up on foreign soil to cut costs, with no concern for long term sustainability of their corporation and certainly no loyalty to their nation of origin or its populous. This addictive analogy has creeped into Wall Street where the best returns are being realized by brokers and hedge fund managers who are investing our pensions, 401ks, insurance industry capital, and other investment capital into not the USA anymore, but into the lucrative returns that further line the pockets of the offshoring corporations who’ve abandoned us. Any type of punitive measure to level the playing field is met by fierce oppostiion from… you guessed it…. The GOP.

    Reply

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