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Republicans have found a way to remind Americans that they're still in charge in many states. Michigan is the latest to approve “right to work” legislation that prevents unions from requiring dues from nonunion employees who still receive benefits even though they are not members. It was uncertain whether or not the 2 bills would become law, having been controversial since the GOP-controlled legislature pushed them through in a party line vote earlier this week. Tonight however, Gov. Rick Snyder (R) made news by doing what many call an attack on labor: he signed the legislation.

Michigan director, Scott Hagerstrom of Americans For Prosperity, the nonprofit founded by David Koch, lauded the legislation as  “the shot heard round the world for workplace freedom.” The sentiment is shared by many activists on the right who believe this recent move will start a nationwide legislative trend. There is a strong possibility however, that this belief may be fatefully misguided.

After Gov. Scott Walker (R) was successful in passing similar legislation teacher protests sprang up in Wisconsin. As they grew in size, these demonstrations inspired the Occupy Movement. By bringing the issue of wealth inequality into the national discourse, the protesters played an undeniable role in the GOP's defeat in the 2012 election which was seen by many political scientists as a realignment. Republicans lost ground in all three national races, and only kept the House due to gerrymandering; they did not win the majority of the votes cast. A clear message was sent to Washington this November: the far right's ideas do not jive with the American people, and the more they are ignored the weaker the GOP will become. This legislation does just that: it is in clear defiance of the November mandate.

There is already firm opposition from Democrats, union members, and activists on the left. Protests have erupted outside the Capitol nearly 30,000 strong. Unions all around the country are showing their support with numerous petitions. If this bill really is “the shot heard round the world” it has not been in the sense Hagerstrom predicted. Rather, it has inspired solidarity nationwide. There is a possibility that this may prove to be the spark that revitalizes the Occupy Movement or gives rise to a new, similar movement.

There are further reaching risks for conservatives as well, if this legislation starts a national trend. A major factor that helped give rise to Occupy was the impact of the recessed economy on middle class families. Millions of Americans were unemployed, wages were stagnant, and the wealth gap was enormous. This “right to work” legislation may not help the economy as Republicans have claimed. The is a direct correlation between worker friendly states and standard of living. Ass the latter declines it will only bring more unrest and more anger. The "blame Obama" tactic has failed in the past. This recent legislation was a risky move by the GOP, and it may help Democrats nationwide in 2014.

Originally posted to WalkerBragman on Tue Dec 11, 2012 at 10:46 PM PST.

Also republished by In Support of Labor and Unions.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (7+ / 0-)

    Walker Bragman BA Government from Skidmore College Political Cartoonist/Blogger

    by WalkerBragman on Tue Dec 11, 2012 at 10:46:16 PM PST

  •  There is so much more to say on this (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    radarlady, akze29, coquiero, Sylv

    The issue of why Michigan retired auto workers voted against their own interest in 10 and installed a totally GOP legislature is extremely complex, but the vast amount of money poured into the state by the Kochs has to be acknowledged.

    And part of the blame has to go to the Democrats, who refused to participate in the recall effort (allegedly because a deal had been cut to avoid this sort of legislation.) Michigan Democrats have not only been apathetic but inbred and uncreative in selecting candidates.

    This is what it gets you.

    •  Care to run for office yourself? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Clearly, ballot initiatives and recalls waste resources and haven't worked over the last 2 years.

      You are right - we need more and better Democratic candidates.  There should NEVER be an unopposed Republican on the ballot in Michigan - anywhere.  Until we stand up and take our place on the ballot we have no chance at governing.

      •  They do not waste resources! (0+ / 0-)

        The problem is we always focus on one day every two years. Circulating a petition requires conversation--something that progressives tend to avoid in Northern Michigan. That's the problem.

        I live in MI 1 and spent many hours on the phone for a good candidate, who ended up losing by a few hundred votes after a massive infusion of Koch Kash at the last minute. I do not regret a minute of my conversations or consider them "wasted resources."

        Right now the propeganda machines are cranking; this is going to be good for jobs! Now, jobs will increase. It's inevitable. And then Snyder will take the credit. It's vital to get out there now--not two years from now--to explain why this is not just bad for Michigan but evil for the middle class.

        •  I agree with you (0+ / 0-)

          You spent hours working for a candidate - YES!  I ran for local office this year and could not have done it without literally hundreds of hours donated by supporters, many of whom I had never met before.  I lost, but I am more determined than ever to get a seat in government and start chipping away at these destructive people.

          Our track record with ballot initiatives is not very successful.  I was frustrated when labor leaders couldn't agree on which proposals to support or not (except for Prop 2) in the past election.  The recall Snyder efforts earlier did nothing but make the Republicans stronger.

          The Republicans have concentrated on filling the seats of government, and then holding them in any way possible, including voter suppression, gerrymandering, and in the case of Jase Bolger, running phony candidates as Democrats.

          We must get Democrats in office.  I'm not kidding when I ask people to run for office.  Get on the library board, the city council, the county commission, and start making noise.

          •  Frustrated as well (0+ / 0-)

            While my husband and I can read, we were looking for some good, authoritative recommendations because sometimes the initiatives have unintended consequences. (Still not sure about the bridge thing.) It was frustrating not to be able to get consensus on most, and an ad campaign that said: "Just vote no on everything" seems to have worked.

            •  The bridge- saw this sign in Lansing yesterday (0+ / 0-)

              You Burned the Bridge.  

              I supported the bridge for a couple of reasons.  

              1. We need to look at progress, and future infrastructure.  We could leverage Canada's contribution to obtain billions in federal highway dollars for the entire state.  
              2. I object that Matty Maroun, the billionaire who owns the biggest icon of blight in Detroit (the Central Train Depot) has a monopoly with the Ambassador Bridge.  Granholm initiated this proposal with the Obama administration.  It's good for Michigan, IMHO, and it was the one thing I agreed with Snyder on.  

              I didn't understand why the unions didn't support the bridge- it would have created thousands of jobs.  It looked like a back room deal was made.

              I will not support the bridge until Snyder is out of office.  

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