Protesters gather for a rally outside the State Capitol in Lansing, Mich., Tuesday, Dec. 11, 2012. The crowd is protesting right-to-work legislation passed last week. Michigan could become the 24th state with a right-to-work law next week. Rules required a five-day wait before the House and Senate vote on each other's bills; lawmakers are scheduled to reconvene Tuesday and Gov. Snyder has pledged to sign the bills into law.
Michigan, the home of the United Auto Workers, has always been a strong pro-union state. That’s why the recent passing of anti-union legislation came as such a shock to Michigan’s workers, and to the rest of the nation.
The new “right-to-work” bill would prevent public workers from being required to join a union as a condition of employment; a second bill, affecting the private sector, is currently under consideration. Michigan’s House of Representatives approved the bill without public comment, floor debate or committee hearings, despite its being unilaterally opposed by Democrats. Protestors in the thousands have descended on the state capitol in Lansing and outside the Ann Arbor home of Governor Rick Snyder to make their views known; Snyder is expected to sign the bill this week, making Michigan the 24th right-to-work state in the nation.
Supporters of right-to-work say it will improve the business climate and give workers more freedom; opponents decry it as a tactic meant to diminish the financial and political strength of unions. Similar anti-union legislation has recently passed in Wisconsin and Indiana.
Is this a sign of things to come for the country’s unions? Would you support a right-to-work law in California? Do you think unions have too much clout, or do they provide a necessary balance of power between corporations and workers?
Chris Christoff , state and municipalities reporter for Bloomberg News, speaking to us from the state capitol in Lansing, Michigan