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I'm always happy to see the president come out in support of workers. It's probably too late to make a difference, because the Republicans announced the legislation and voted on it in the same day:
WASHINGTON -- The Obama administration, in a statement Thursday afternoon, came out against proposed "right-to-work" legislation being pushed by Republicans in Michigan including Gov. Rick Snyder (R).
"President Obama has long opposed so-called ‘right to work’ laws and he continues to oppose them now," said White House spokesperson Matt Lehrich. "The President believes our economy is stronger when workers get good wages and good benefits, and he opposes attempts to roll back their rights. Michigan – and its workers' role in the revival of the US automobile industry – is a prime example of how unions have helped build a strong middle class and a strong American economy."
This isn't the first time the president has had to weigh into the state politics surrounding collective bargaining and labor law. He also spoke out against efforts by Gov. Scott Walker (R) to take away collective bargaining rights in Wisconsin.
The two pieces of related legislation passed, one in each house, but the final votes aren't until next week:
LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Republicans rushed right-to-work legislation through the Michigan Legislature Thursday, drawing raucous protests from hundreds of union supporters, some of whom were pepper-sprayed by police when they tried to storm the Senate chamber.
With six-vote margins in both chambers, the House and Senate approved measures prohibiting private unions from requiring that nonunion employees pay fees. Democrats denounced it as an attack on worker rights, but the GOP sponsor insisted it would boost the economy and jobs. Separate legislation dealing with public-sector unions was expected to come later.
This, of course, is malarkey. Workers in right to work states make an average of $1500 less annually. But that's the point, I think. ALEC members will be very happy.
Because of rules requiring a five-day delay between votes in the two chambers on the same legislation, final enactment appears unlikely until next week. Republican Gov. Rick Snyder, who previously had said repeatedly that right-to-work was "not on my agenda," told reporters Thursday he would sign the measures.
A victory in Michigan would give the right-to-work movement its strongest foothold yet in the Rust Belt region, where organized labor already has suffered several body blows. Republicans in Indiana and Wisconsin recently pushed through legislation curbing union rights, sparking massive protests.
Marcy Wheeler attacks Snyder's lame rationalization for supporting the legislation:
But the funniest part of the press conference, IMO, was the way Snyder said he’s doing this because IN passed right to work last February. Over and over, he said we’re doing this because … Indiana! The governor of the beautiful, more diverse, and better educated MI now aspires for his state to be the less beautiful, more racist, and less well educated IN.
All that said, there’s nothing funny about this move generally. Republicans are adding an appropriation to the bill to make it impossible to overturn via referendum (all while preaching choice and freedom!). They mean to take that money out of MI workers’ pockets and they’re going to do it undemocratically to ensure the do so.