Michigan lawmakers made quick work of ‘Right to Work’ legislation.
The Michigan House of Representatives today gave final legislative approval to the bill today by a vote of 58 to 51.
It was just last Thursday, December 6th, that Governor Rick Snyder announced the Right to Work debate would take place.
“I never thought I’d see the day in Michigan, the birthplace of organized labor,” said Berrien County resident and former Carpenter’s Union President Jim Hahn who was among protestors at the statehouse today.
The number of protestors was estimated to be as low as 4,000 and as high as 15,000. It was the kind of crowd that was hard to count, with some protestors making it inside the building and the rest relegated to the statehouse lawn.
The Right to Work opponents weren’t always well behaved. Some were hit by pepper spray as they got too close to the Senate entrance for the likes of the Michigan State Police officers who were guarding the chambers.
Perhaps some of the protestors acted out because they never got a chance to speak out on Right to Work.
Legislative corners were cut in rushing Right to Work through both houses. As a result, there was never a committee hearing that routinely provides for public input.
“It is said that absolute power corrupts absolutely, and this is absolute evidence,” said Mich. Rep. Barb Byrum, (D) Onondaga from the floor of the house chambers.
The house vote amounted to a slap in the face for some.
“Unions are the one that brought you the weekend, the eight hour day, the 40 hour week, concepts like overtime pay and bans on child labor laws, all these things are courtesy of organized labor,” said Jim Hahn.
In the end, organized labor got out maneuvered and downright ambushed at the legislature.
“I think it was done this way because we're in lame duck, Republicans lost five, six seats in the house, they did not expect that they would have the support after the first of the year to do this,” House Minority Leader Richard Hammel told News Center 16 in a one on one phone interview. “They’re being funded by corporations and large donors who want to see this thing happen and their intent is just to lower wages all over the State of Michigan.”
Mich. Rep. Al Pscholka, (R) Stevensville, begs to disagree: “Well, I think it says Michigan is open for business and I think we’ve seen other Right to Work states do much better with job creation.”
In fact, Pscholka says Michigan wages were already on the decline, well before Right to Work. “I mean we've gone from 16th in per capita income to 36th, so really the argument that this is all about wages; we’ve lost wages over the last ten years.”
Shortly before 6:00 p.m. the bill was signed by Governor Rick Snyder who also scheduled a press conference to talk about it for Wednesday evening.
The bill will take effect 90 days after the legislature adjourns.