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President Obama, Monday, drew a parallel between the divisive politics of the federal budget's so-called fiscal cliff, and the politics of the Michigan governor's fight against unions. "These so-called 'right to work' laws, they don't have to do with economics; they have everything to do with politics," he told a crowd of supporters at the new Daimler diesel plant, in Redford, Michigan, at a previously scheduled stop to push his call for a tax rate increase for top earners.

Saying the unions that thrived in the cradle of the American automotive industry "have helped build not just a stronger middle class but a stronger America," Obama called the actions of Gov. Rick Snyder and the Michigan state legislature to remove rules regarding union membership in union shops, a politically vindictive choice rather than necessary legislation. He then used the familiar language of frustration, unmistakably similar to that used in the budget debate in Washington, DC. "[W]e’ve got to get past this whole situation where we manufacture crises because of politics," he said.

Both these events - the fiscal cliff created by Congress' stubborn ineptitude and the unexpected turnabout of Michigan's Snyder on the unions who supported his election - the president went on to say, are attacks on the health of the American middle class, that benefits the wealthy at the expense of the rest of us. He urged "folks from our state’s capital, all the way to the nation’s capital, they should be focused on the same thing."

"As we face nationally a fiscal cliff, and now face a Michigan cliff, if the right-to-work law passes, the governor will allow us to plunge into endless controversy," Rep. Sandy Levin told the press, after a meeting of the entire Michigan Democratic Congressional delegation with the governor.

"We’re the place where the middle class began because of our industry, our ability to make things and the ability to have good wages and working conditions, and all that has come with collective bargaining in Michigan," added Sen. Debbie Stabenow.

The Republicans think they are making life difficult for Democrats, when what they are really doing with their fight against the middle class in Washington and against unions in our industrial heartland is assaulting the middle class that built this country. With chisel and sledgehammer in hand, they are attacking everything that makes the American worker proud and independent. The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and the Koch Brothers empower the GOP hand as they bang away at the leg of capital "L" Labor, until it becomes a lowercase "l," where this emasculated version of labor must depend only on the willingness of the employer to treat and pay them fairly, as individuals, without the power and support of union voice and, most importantly, its solidarity.

That is why unions are vital to middle class workers' interests. When absolutely necessary, a union will stand for all its members, against management. Instead of being the lone petitioner for a raise or sick pay or vacation or overtime, one has the power of the brotherhood to stand with you, shoulder-to-shoulder.

Can the people of Michigan stand together, and fight this assault on their ability to bargain for better working conditions? They better. Otherwise, as Rep. John Conyers put it, "The result is going to be instead of Michigan united, Michigan divided.”


Originally posted to ProseAndThorn on Tue Dec 11, 2012 at 06:18 AM PST.

Also republished by In Support of Labor and Unions, ClassWarfare Newsletter: WallStreet VS Working Class Global Occupy movement, and Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  It's a sad day for my Michigan... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    elsaf, 50sbaby, Creosote

    ... powerless to impede or stop the offensive GOP onslaught against the middle class, financed by the plutocracy.

    sad to see so many people voted against their own best interests and put the predatory GOP politicians into office.

    Help the GOP return to sanity - vote them into a minority in the House and increase their Minority in the Senate in 2014. America will thank you!

    by dagnome on Tue Dec 11, 2012 at 10:47:36 AM PST

    •  They didn't know what they were doing (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      50sbaby, Zinman, Creosote

      It's our job to see that they do know before the next election.

      Wealth doesn't trickle down -- it rises up.

      by elsaf on Tue Dec 11, 2012 at 11:35:47 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  So, so, so sooooooo (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      6412093, Creosote

      depressed by this nauseating turn of events.

      I was angry with my Dad when he voted for Snyder in 2010, we had a big blow up argument.  I want to call him up and say "SEE I TOLD YOU SO" but that will only start another fight.

      I have become immune to the shenanigans in Arizona, but for Michigan to turn its back on the unions, its beyond comprehension. Literally brings tears to my eyes.

      Arizona: Remember the good old days, when we were just known as the Grand Canyon State?

      by AZ RedWingsFan on Tue Dec 11, 2012 at 07:15:01 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Republicans putting politics ahead of people? (0+ / 0-)

    Who'd a thunk they wouldn't?

    "There's no ideology [t]here [on the right]. It's just about being a dick." Bill Maher, June 22, 2012.

    by caseynm on Tue Dec 11, 2012 at 11:47:58 AM PST

    •  Actually, "politics" is a euphemism. (0+ / 0-)

      "Politics" comes from polis -- i.e. the people. However, instead of being a simple reference to the populace and their interests, "politics" in the modern world is actually a stand-in for power. The issue we are facing is that legislative bodies, which are supposed to represent the interests of the electorate and to manage our public assets and resources, increasingly prefer to exert power over the electorate and utilize their access to resources as a threat to enforce compliance. Doling some of our resources out to industrialists and having them do the rationing makes it possible for legislators to maintain the fiction that they have nothing to do with anything at all.
      The punitive measures to which they are now resorting to attack women and workers and migrants directly are a sign of desperation. Ditto for corporate CEOs making overt threat. Those are a sign that corporate enterprise is no longer willing to be a silent participant in the deception.
      How did we get to legislative power mavens? They were always there. We just didn't notice until the information age exposed them.
      Remember when states gave away railroad rights of way extending a mile on either side of the track? Not only was that before your time; it was not noteworthy at the time. That's what legislators were mostly about --doling out property rights. People insisting on human rights were always a minor nuisance and sort of an after-thought even in the Civil War. Then, even if individuals couldn't own other human beings, at least the state could. After all, that's what state's rights are about -- the ability to make life and death decisions and dispose of people (send them off to war) as the state sees fit. Life and death are a pair. If women can decide who lives, then the state deciding who dies isn't worth much, is it?
      Abortion and capital punishment aren't about the victims. They're about the power of the state and the people who run it.
      Anyway, it ain't politics; it's power our legislative bodies are clinging to. That's a dicey ambition when you're an incompetent and all you've got is the gift of gab.

      We organize governments to deliver services and prevent abuse.

      by hannah on Wed Dec 12, 2012 at 06:21:30 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Republican overreach (6+ / 0-)

    If the mood (angry, determined, & with inspiring solidarity) of the crowd was any indication at today's 10,000 plus rally at the Michigan Capitol, the Republicans have made a serious political mistake.

    Just like their attempt to suppress voting in the last election, the result promises to be a newly energized progressive electorate next time.  

    Sow the wind and reap the whirlwind.

    This high-handed move is also going to be challenged in the courts because of the illegal procedures used to bring these bills to the floor, and to stifle ANY debate.

    Labor was the first price paid for all things. It was not by money, but by labour, that all wealth of the world was originally purchased. - Adam Smith

    by boatwright on Tue Dec 11, 2012 at 11:49:15 AM PST

  •  Big Auto (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    murphthesurf, Zinman, Creosote

    I have heard nothing from the Detroit automakers.  It seems time that they get some skin in the game.
    We bailed out "Detroit" for $25.1 billion.  Now they sell us out by their silence.
    No pressure from unions or workers will change this governor's mind.  It's time to direct some fire at GM, Ford, Daimler, etc.

    •  We should counter-attack (0+ / 0-)

      There has to be leverage somewhere we can use to pressure Big Auto to come out against this Republican attack on workers and their unions.

      Suppose we could find a tool, such as a nationwide boycott, and promise to use it against any of the Big Auto companies who do not come out against this Republican attack.

      Eradicate magical thinking

      by Zinman on Tue Dec 11, 2012 at 03:10:40 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  The problem with power is that, to be felt, (0+ / 0-)

        it has to hurt. Those who lust for power cannot do good. The greater the injury they inflict, the more powerful they are.

        That is why when our Uncle Cons whine about the President being weak, they are merely taking cognizance of the fact that he is doing good.

        The lust for power is like other obsessions. It cannot be assuaged. It requires an intervention.

        We organize governments to deliver services and prevent abuse.

        by hannah on Wed Dec 12, 2012 at 06:27:45 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  They claim neutrality. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      They say they don't want the divisiveness, but won't come out against it either. Cowards.

      Arizona: Remember the good old days, when we were just known as the Grand Canyon State?

      by AZ RedWingsFan on Tue Dec 11, 2012 at 07:18:19 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  the rest of michigan (0+ / 0-)

     it would be interesting to know how this very volatile issue is looked at by the rest of michigan. is there sympathy or antipathy towards labor? to what degree? do any republicans around the state disapprove of republicans ramming it through? what do they think of their governor's change of - is it heart? or something else? what do they think of the president joining in?

    any polling?

     kossacks from michigan, any impressions?

    •  I live in the Lansing area (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      AZ RedWingsFan, Creosote

      and I am a state worker, and a member of a union.  Here are my impressions:  I think that most Michigan voters don't like extremists or extremist legislation.  I think that the voters are also very reluctant to change our State Constitution.  I think that is why they voted down Prop 2 - because it went too far and it would have changed the constitution.  But now Governor Snidely has gone too far the other way, after saying for 2 years that RTW was not on his agenda.  Also, once voters learn how this legislation was rammed thru in 5 days, they won't like that.  I think that Governor Snidely will be a one-term governor.

      •  Exactly. They subverted the process. People won't (0+ / 0-)

        forget.  I read that a snap poll showed only 6% of Michigan voters thought Snyder should have picked this fight.  

        Watch for the rest of the Alec legislation this week - attaching abortion restrictions to the Blue Cross bill, etc.  These people are bought and paid for, and it shows.

  •  It puts people against people (0+ / 0-)

    Wealthy conservatives who want to break unions, reduce worker wages, and reduce the influence workers can have in elections; and the workers themselves.

  •  Right-to-slave! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Corporations have destroyed Michigan… yet they’re still blaming unions?

    Love Me, I'm a Liberal!

    by simplesiemon on Tue Dec 11, 2012 at 05:13:41 PM PST

  •  Much ado about nothing? (0+ / 0-)

    It's not like unions or collective bargaining are being outlawed.  All that is happening is that unions can no longer force people to pay dues in order to work someplace, correct?  

    Individuals who choose to participate and pay dues can do so, and those who don't, can opt out.

    •  yes they can opt out (0+ / 0-)

      Under the Freedom to Freeload laws, people can choose to get all the benefits of being in a unionized workplace but pay nothing.  That is why it is the Freedom to Freeload.  Under federal law, the union is required to represent the freeloaders.  There is one primary reason for these laws: to weaken the Democratic Party.  PERIOD

  •  My wingnut asshole local paper LIKES this shit (0+ / 0-)

    An editorial yesterday PRAISED this wingnut bullshit as a "Michigan Miracle", if you can believe it!!!

    They're not even Koch-owned, but they have hated every advance for the working man since the Emancipation Proclamation. Three guesses why and the first two don't count.

    If it's
    Not your body,
    Then it's
    Not your choice
    And it's
    None of your damn business!

    by TheOtherMaven on Wed Dec 12, 2012 at 07:14:21 AM PST

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