Education News

MI governor flip flops on bill that attacks workers, families

by Brian Washington

Even though a new poll shows voters are against it, the State House and Senate in Michigan this afternoon approved a bill pushed by leaders in the GOP-controlled state legislature and corporate CEOs that unfairly tips the scales against hardworking Michiganders.

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The so-called “Right to Work” bill was introduced and passed Thursday without a single hearing or public debate. And while the bill’s name sounds as if it might benefit workers, Michigan workers aren’t fooled. This bill, say worker advocates, is designed to give corporate CEOs such as David and Charles Koch — two of the bills primary backers — even more power to maximize profits at the expense of those who teach our children, protect our streets, keep us healthy, and build our roads and vehicles.

Michiganders protest at state Capitol in Lansing, MI

Gov. Rick Snyder, who is also a Republican, previously called the bill “divisive” and said the issue “was not on his agenda” but, under pressure from conservative leaders in the House and Senate and wealthy political donors, he changed his mind following meetings this week.

“We elected leaders who we thought would work together to create jobs, steer our economy back to fiscal strength, and restore the American Dream for the middle class,” said Steven Cook, an educator from Lansing who is president of the Michigan Education Association (MEA). MEA represents the teachers and education support professionals who serve the students in Michigan’s public schools.

Cook added, “Instead, Governor Snyder and his allies in the Legislature are fulfilling their extremist agenda by going after working families — setting the wrong priorities and making the wrong choices.”

The bill is getting huge support from the business community, which sees this as an opportunity to game the system and get ahead on the backs of middle class workers. The Michigan Chamber of Commerce, which hadn’t supported the bill, flip-flopped this week and has come out in favor of the legislation.

The Michigan Freedom Fund, a group led by the Republican strategist who headed-up Amway heir Dick DeVos’ failed 2006 gubernatorial attempt and is currently employed by the DeVos family, has launched a statewide $1 million television and radio ad campaign. Americans for Prosperity, a group headed by the Koch brothers, is also pushing the bill.

“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,” said Cook, who added that this is a “dangerous law” that would weaken families, suppress voices in our democracy, and divide us all.

The governor’s decision has sparked heated protests in Lansing, with workers storming the State Capitol chanting, “Hey-Hey, Ho-Ho, Right to Work has got to go.” At one point, the Capitol’s doors were locked for several hours to the public. More demonstrations are scheduled over the next several days.


Thursday afternoon, President Barack Obama, who won the state of Michigan and is also credited with helping revive the state’s auto industry, released a statement opposing the bill.

Meanwhile, a new poll shows that when voters understand what’s at stake, they oppose lawmakers passing legislation designed to make Michigan a right-to-work state. After hearing statements in favor of and against, 51 percent of those polled said they oppose right-to-work legislation while only 41 percent said they support it.

To get the latest information about the fight to protect workers’ rights in Michigan, click here.

14 responses to “MI governor flip flops on bill that attacks workers, families

  1. Republicans, bow your heads in shame, for voting for business and money over workers, families, and especially children whose only chance to get ahead is to do well in school.

  2. The problem is that our unions, all of them, have forgotten to get our members on board with what really matters and that is voting. We have too many so called “union members” who think that the Republicans are really looking out for them and they are voting that way. If we vote them out, and keep them out, they can’t pass these crazy laws. We react when they do but are not proactive before hand. Lets get the “Unified” back in the unions and start electing like we care.
    p.s. I had a republican relative tell me eight years ago this was a nation wide agenda for their party. We knew about it, but did nothing to head it off. Now we need to fight instead of whine. Get loud, get vocal. Find out who supports these leaders and lets start boycotts. We need to flex some political muscle.

  3. One of two things has happened here. We have already become a Third World country OR we are almost there. Republicans are true to their values–no need for coalition building or “reaching across the aisle”. They just go for the gusto.

    The final straw will come when we read that China is outsourcing some of its manufacturing to the United States for cheaper labor here!

  4. More underhanded shady dealings from the GOP!! They will stoop to new lows to deceive the electorate with misleading laws to achieve their ends! They don’t want democracy because when the people speak, they lose!! Some voters thought that 11/6 was the final straw for the oligarchs, but it was only the beginning! As soon as “We the People” let our guard down, they try to squash more of our civil, voting, and worker’s rights…it’s unconstitutional, criminal, and down right treasonous!!

  5. Mr. Snyder waited until after the election and when the union proposal went down to defeat (how I don’t know). He felt sure enough of himself to back ther right to work bill. He always wanted it but is such a wimp he can’t stand any criticism.
    Anyone who voted against the union proposal should hang their heads in shame. The unions made this a strong middle class healthy class. And now the Republicans are being allowed to take all of our rights and jobs and replace them with larger tax bills. When will we wake up. I taught school for over 39 years and was a union person from day one. As the years went by I saw more and more erosion of the power and influence the union had in the state. There is nothing wrong with being a union member. It is not character flaw and yes there have been mistakes and advantage taking but on the whole it has helped more people rise up into a comfortable middle class and florish. Shame on the governor and the legislature. I have never voted for and Republican and have never been surprised by their back stabbing and hatred of the middle class. Remember we are part of the 49% that are free loaders.

  6. I am a 27 year veteran of Michigan Public schools. What a sad day that the republicans, lead by Gov. Snyder are destroying public education.
    They say we are protected by Federal collective bargaining. NOT So. They have passed so many laws in Michigan that have destroyed are bargaining rights.

    Gov. Snyder and his Cronies belong in the HALL OF SHAME!

  7. Although Governor Snyder has said time and again he will not promote “right-to-work” legislation, he has apparently welcomed this bill when presented by the Republican legislators. So it is no surprise that our governor is in favor of the SB and HB to make Michigan a “right-to-work” state. I see this as the governor making the changes his party supports by allowing this legislation to come in through the back door rather than him bringing it out in the open prior to congressional voting. This is just a fancy way of breaking unions.
    Not only do Governor Snyder and his henchmen plan to implement union-busting, the legislation the governor will sign requires the unions to offer support to non-union members. Governor Synder, I was the union rep in my school for many years. Why should I have to represent a non-union member with my time and training to represent a non-union member who has not contributed to the union system with time or funds as I have for many years?
    I am not simply writing to convey my huge disappointment in your governorship. I am also volunteering to serve on a committee to research this issue and others regarding public education. I am willing to step up to the plate to work for the betterment of everyone in Michigan. Are you willing to do the same?

  8. I was born and raised in South Dakota and have been teaching here for more then 20 years. We are the lowest paid teachers IN THE COUNTRY and we are a right to work state. Unfortunately, we are also run by a republican govenor who is simply following the crowd of other republican govenors. He tried (thankfully unsuccessfully!!!) to take away what little rights we have this past year. This included collective bargaining, continuing contract (no, we don’t have tenure) and other rights. He also tried to implement the so called “merit pay” system with absolutely no money behind it. You do not want to work in a “right to work” state. We have so few rights that it is a joke.

  9. I was a teacher in Wisconsin for 36 years. During that time the teacher’s unions in Wisconsin managed to get a lot of legislation passed to enable the teacher’s to bargain for many things necessary to build better schools. Our teachers were being paid according to their education and experience. Through working with the boards of education in many communities, the schools were well run and the children were well taught. Staff was evaluated fairly. The teachers were paid enough through salary, benefits and retirement contributions to maintain a middle class status. It took a number of years to get these things. I recall early morning meetings and strike votes to get these things for the teachers and, more importantly, for the students in their classes. Most of this is now gone because of the republican governor eliminating collective bargaining and a lot of money for the public schools. Good teachers are quitting. Class size has increased and morale has been adversely affected. We had a good system in place – what a shame to see it ruined by the radical republican agenda!

    1. Republicons want public schools to fail in favor of schools for profit. To us, it’s about investing in America’s future, to them, it’s about making a buck at the expense of others. Unfortunately, their forte is marketing.

  10. This again is about desperation on the part of Republicans that has continuously backfired on them. They act in an impulsive manner, without thought, which becomes apparent to the voters. They will suffer at the polls because of this because they have catered to the minority again. Unfortunately, the middle class working class of Michigan will suffer in the short run. The resurgence of unionism will happen in the future as soon as all middle class workers, unionized or not, understand that they benefit from unionism. Stay strong Michigan workers. My thoughts are with you.

    Brad Lindell
    New York State
    Middle Class Worker

  11. Also a U of M graduate in Education. I am a CT teacher. How sad the Mich is about to deny their status a state supportive of schools, teachers, kids, workers of many areas to become a Right to Work State. This is a step back for a Michigan built by the labor of union workers.

  12. Here are some statistics on right to work state’s vs unionized state’s education performances on standardized tests. The first number is for unionized states and the second number represents right to work states. For scores well above average- 5-0, above average 4-1 average 13-7 below average 4-7 and well below average 2-7. Now do you want your children and grand children going to schools in unionized states or so called right to work states? If you examine standard of living, average income, IQ, education levels you will come up with similar stats. People in unionized states just live better.

    1. I was born and raised in Michigan, graduating from UM with a degree in Education. We moved to Tennessee in 1986, a right to work state. As a parent and educator in TN, I am very familiar with our schools and I want to tell you, you are absolutely correct on all counts!! I am sad and disappointed to read that Michigan would pass such a law.

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