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For everyone grieving as I am tonight regarding Michigan, it's important to note that this is not new.  In the 1950's Republicans in rust belt states also tried to pass right to work--the most famous case being Ohio in 1957.  This was OHIO in the 1950's manufacturing boom, and the GOP had the balls to pass something like that.  Ohioans used their right to referendum and repealed the legislation by about the same margin as they did SB5 more than half a century later.

More over the jump

Indiana wasn't as lucky.  They didn't have (and still don't have) referenda. They got right to work in 1957 as well... passed in the cover of night during a lame duck, just like this one.  There were massive protests at the statehouse, just like this one.  They managed to repeal it 7 years later when LBJ swept the country and the Indy statehouse.  We have easier options than they did.

I don't believe that we can wait that long for a repeal, or that even repeal will happen.  Once something like this gets locked in, it's very hard to shake off 'cos business digs in its heels.  I'm hopeful that it will be repealed.  I'm just trying to say that this shit has happened before, even during the height of the union movement... Hell, the whole concept of "right to work" was passed in the Taft Hartley act during a time when labor was king!  And the bill was from a Republican from the same labor heavy Ohio.

It is important to note that over the course of labor's history, it lost way more times than it won... often brutally.  The "good times" for labor post-FDR were a brief respite between some very horrible times.  Labor usually lost and lost badly:

Ford's strong opinions on benevolent labor relations—he increased his workers' minimum wage from $2.83 per 9-hour day to $5.00 per 8-hour day in 1914 while establishing some living style requirements of decency—did not extend to acceptance of the 1935 Wagner Act establishing trade union rights. He refused to join Chrysler and General Motors in their post-strike agreements with the United  Automobile Workers Union (UAW), instead using company enforcers and spies to discourage unionization in his plant. The 1937 "Battle of the Overpass" in which the enforcers attacked and severely injured canvassing union representatives marked a historic moment in labor history. Ford was censured by the National Labor Relations Board despite their denials. In 1941, Ford Motor Company finalized a contract with the UAW.
That was a win, but it came at a bloody price over 5 years, even during FDR's heyday!  Going back before FDR, it wasn't so rosy, either...

I do think there are some brighter times ahead... maybe way farther ahead, but still ahead... Labor is adapting to the new situations such as Wal Mart and the fast food strikes in New York City.  As conditoins worsen for most Americans, some of them are saying, "Enough!!"  It will take a long time for them to awaken from their submission and demand a better life, but the seeds of it start to be sprouting... just like they did in the gilded age.  As you well know, this is our gilded age.

We must remain vigilant and keep fighting and keep voting.  The only way to stop this stuff is to vote...

Get some rest, fellow travelers.  They tried to bust the UAW before.  We got the better of them with the bailout that time, but we won't get lucky every time.  I'm hopeful something good might come out of this.  Maybe...

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Comment Preferences

  •  Wow, Ohioan Now and Then, Never Knew That (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    LordMike, Oh Mary Oh

    Thanks.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Thu Dec 06, 2012 at 09:27:19 PM PST

  •  I hope you're right... (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    LordMike, JeffW, HappyinNM, elsaf

    I grew up in a part of Michigan where approval by the UAW was basically a litmus test for any candidate for anything.  I find it shocking that this ridiculous law is probably going to be enacted.

    On the one hand, you sleep in the bed you make.  The people had a choice two years ago, and they elected a Republican governor and a Republican legislature.  This is what that brings about; this is the price you pay for electing these bastards to represent you in Lansing; and some lessons are harder to learn than others.  On the other hand, I just don't think this is good for the people.  I hope it gets repealed.  And repealing this law could be an issue on which a person could base a gubernatorial candidacy.  

    Separately, thank you for the history; I didn't know about the push for "right to work" in the 1950s.

    •  It goes back farther than that... (5+ / 0-)

      "Right to work" came about from the Taft Hartley act of 1947.  Republicans controlled congress, and Truman vetoed it.  They overrode the veto (obviously with Dem help), so legislative union busting is quite old and bipartisan.

      I have to say that the concept of this "Right to work" is incredibly insidious.  What other law allows one to freeload like that?  Diabolically clever... no wonder it's the weapon of choice.

      And yes, I'm blown away as well.  I know that RTW has been the dream fantasy of the MI right for decades, and I can't blame them for going balls to the wall to try and pass it.  RTW to them is like single payer to us.  If there is one opportunity to pass it, you go for it, even if the political cost is high.  This was their one and only chance, so they did it.  I got fooled into thinking that Snyder might be able to stop it, only because he didn't want to run a re-election with that on his resume, but he's got to be the weakest governor ever.  BTW, expect him to totally drop the phony "moderate" schtick he's been peddling for so long.  At this point, it will be a base election, and he will be pulling a full Scott Walker from here on out... no pretend overtures to the left or the center.  At least people will get to see the true Snyder, and not the fake one he's been peddling.

      I hope they manage to find a way to get this overturned.  It will be difficult, I'm afraid, especially as time goes on.  I do think that a full effort needs to be made to discredit the GOP'ers responsible for this shit.  Trackers everywhere... private investigators... bring out their corruption to the public eye.

      GODSPEED TO THE WISCONSIN FOURTEEN!

      by LordMike on Thu Dec 06, 2012 at 10:21:13 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I believe your hopeful thoughts at the end of (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        LordMike

        your diary will come about. The conditions are similar to the way they were during and after the Depression. The gap between the wealthy and the rest of us is larger than it's been in years. Wages have stagnated during the past 30 years, while production has increased dramatically. People are starting to get the picture. Those employers who threatened to cut hours so that they don't have to pay for health care are starting to back off. The times they are a-changin'.

        •  It will take awhile... (0+ / 0-)

          They are numb from playing xBox and watching TV, but some folks are opening up their windows and shouting out how they aren't going to take it anymore.  I'm a human being, dammit!

          Sad how this movie is 35 years old and still rings true today! Nothing has changed...

          GODSPEED TO THE WISCONSIN FOURTEEN!

          by LordMike on Thu Dec 06, 2012 at 10:37:15 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  Eisenhower left things a real mess... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    LordMike, loretta

    We moved back to Illinois in 1962, and my Dad had to take a loss on our house in Birmingham, Michigan. The economy was in the toilet (standard post-Republican recession condition ever since).

    We moved to Belvidere, Illinois in 1962. I was 10 years old. It was like going back in time... all corn and cows, middle of nowhere. I was living Tom Sawyer (myself being a modern Huckleberry Finn, but that's another story).

    Then, along came Chrysler!

    So basically what I'm saying here is I grew up in a transformational environment that out of the blue suddenly pitted Labor against "management" with first hand tales of how much hate it takes to make a car.

    I'm pro-Union, because I could relate to my friends and acquaintances, but I had a pretty good friend who rose in management to be "the main guy" running things here from Detroit ~ though by then he'd even betrayed his promise to his wife and daughter that that would never happen.

    So maybe it's time to update "It's about the economy" to:
    It's about the people who go to work, despite everything,
    and make all of this, America, happen. IT, is about Labor.

     

    "This thaw...took a while to thaw; it's going to take a while to unthaw."

    by Fulgour on Thu Dec 06, 2012 at 10:36:16 PM PST

  •  Just finished reading about The Homestead strike (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Williston Barrett, LordMike

    What a fascinating period of American history.

    Most striking to me, is the fact that families (woman and children) literally put their lives on the line.  Same thing happened at Ludlow.  Also, how integrated and organized the community was in order fight off the Pinkertons.

    I do have some level of the sense of risk and loss associated with a labor battle.  While Ive never risked my life, I've certainly risked my livelihood.  And lost.  Been blackballed.  And not even over trying to organize.

    Just trying to get one employer to cease it's large scale wage theft nearly cost me my professional licensure.  The state labor board turned out to be a joke.  Bought and paid for.

    I feel like such wimp for losing hope.  Nobody ever shot at me, like they did in Ludlow or Homestead.  I can't imagine what they must have gone through.

    Romney supporters: Do you love your country, more than you hate President Obama?

    by Boberto on Thu Dec 06, 2012 at 11:12:45 PM PST

  •  If the law passes in MI, do non-union members (0+ / 0-)

    get the same wages and terms as union, or can they be different?  Does the union have any responsibilities to represent non-union workers ?

    The most important way to protect the environment is not to have more than one child.

    by nextstep on Thu Dec 06, 2012 at 11:26:37 PM PST

    •  That's what right to starve is all about. (0+ / 0-)

      Freeloaders.  The union HAS to represent them.

      "Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." --M. L. King "You can't fix stupid" --Ron White -6.00, -5.18

      by zenbassoon on Fri Dec 07, 2012 at 04:13:10 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

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