Governor Snyder Ignores Union Protest: Signs RTW

Fernando Rojo, Multimedia Editor

On Dec. 11, 2012, teachers, construction workers, union supporters, women’s right activists and many other concerned citizens protested on the front steps of the State Capitol in Lansing, Michigan in opposition to the two Right To Work bills, scheduled to be signed by Michigan Governor Rick Snyder on this date. Still, despite the near 13,000 persistent protesters massing on his doorstep, Mr. Snyder signed both bills.

Michigan became the 24th state to enact these laws.

The new law makes union dues optional. It does not allow contracts to be written between unions and companies, therefore weakening unions in Michigan. As a result, the working class is left with less stability. Unions provide bargaining for workers, and without union funding, they become weak, as does job security.

The Michigan state House of Representatives passed the bill on Dec. 4. At a press conference that same day, Mr. Snyder said, “we are moving forward on the topic of workplace fairness and equality.” It wasn’t until recently that Mr. Snyder gave any input on the Right To Work laws. When similar union battles arose in Wisconsin – as they have in many Midwestern states as a result of Republican state congressional gains in 2010 – Mr. Snyder assured union workers that “we are not Wisconsin.” This proved politically divisive, and arguably a lie, as Mr. Snyder signed a similar bill in Michigan.

As seen in the video at the top of the page, state police officers received criticism for their treatment of the protesters. The Right To Work bill explicitly exempts the police force unions from being affected, which sparked powerful resentment with other workers, as they yell, “enjoy your union paychecks.”

Retired and current workers protest RTW.

“I’m retired, I really don’t need to be here. I’m here, not for the people sitting at home, doing nothing about this. I’m here for the young people,” said one local protester. He held a sign reading “Right To Work is Right To Kill the American Future” and wore a Santa hat. Referring to his persistence at the protest, and work he is doing for future generations, he said, “this is my Christmas gift [for the youth]. I was hoping Snyder wouldn’t do this.”
Click here to listen!

President Obama visited Detroit, Michigan the day prior to Mr. Snyder’s scheduled signing, with hopes to urge the Governor to veto the bill. “You know, these so-called Right To Work laws, they don’t have to do with economics,” Mr. Obama said in Detroit. “They have everything to do with politics. What they’re really talking about is giving you the right to work for less money.”

Both bills sped through congress, backed by the massively conservative-based legislature. The Republican majority was able to deviate from the normal committee process and public debate time period. This is political strategy, because in a couple months more democrats will be added to the state legislature.

Teachers traveled from across the state to protest the bill prior to its signing, including many from Community High School, who used one of their two allowed personal days to protest the bill, proving the strength in unions.