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A Sad Day for the State of Michigan

A long history of civility and at least an attempt at bi-partisanship in Mighican government ended . Can it be brought back?

Mark your calendars that December 6, 2012 was the day that the majority party in Lansing slammed the door on any vestige of cooperation between the two political parties that had been a hallmark of the Milliken years when civility and a degree of bi-partisanship was more the rule than the exception.

With Governor Snyder leading the charge the Senate and House Republicans cast propriety to the wind and passed bills (in some cases without referral to committees or public hearings) that are as divisive and poorly thought out as any possibly in history.

The Republican leadership went so far as to close the Capitol Building to the public so they wouldn’t have to hear the objections of people from across the state. A Court Order reopened the building, after Democratic leaders filed an emergency law suit.

Whether you support the legislation or oppose it, the entire episode is a blot on the record of state politics and doing “the people’s business” in a fair and proper manner. 

There was no question the anti-union, anti-women’s rights bills, so much a part of
the reactionary right’s agenda would likely have the votes to pass but the unwillingness of the legislative leaders to allow the public input, historically a hallmark of our system of government, in an attempt to ram the legislation through in a lame duck session is a disservice to the state and to the communities they represent.

Apparently the legislation in both houses differed and thus must go through a conference committee process to make the bills the same and then be voted on again, supposedly all on Tuesday. Therefore, there is still time to make opinions known and force the leadership in Lansing to retake control of the majority party from the extreme reactionary right wing that has seized its control and then take the proper action.  The question is, will they have the courage to do so.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Daniel JK December 09, 2012 at 06:53 AM
Visit any of the southern "Right-to-Work" states and you'll find that most of them are awful places to live. Their quality of life is far below most unionized states. Yes, those that argue that R2W brings jobs to a state are correct- but they are low-wage jobs and do not foster a healthy living environment that make people want to move to the state. My theory on why the south has such a great obesity crisis? Because they can only afford fast food. The governor said he wanted to "reinvent" Michigan but I don't know where the hell he's drawing his blueprints from because R2W is going to ruin our state. Come 2014 we ought to can the Nerd.
Frustrated Old Man December 09, 2012 at 02:57 PM
Snyder is very weak as a Governor. He claims to be a Republican, yet he's blocking bills for gun owners, and gun rights. Why? Because the Michigan State Police are "telling" him to! Why is he taking orders from them. He should be telling them what to do. Lets not even talk about his tax increases. Pathetic leadership!
J.B. December 09, 2012 at 02:59 PM
Daniel you are very much mistaken on why southern states are awful places to live. It has nothing to do with RTW. They are just awful places to live period. I work for a Tier 1 auto supplier who has plants in the South. And the number one reason why we won't put one in Michigan is the UAW. If Michigan becomes a RTW state, there is the possibility that we could have a new manufacturing plant and a few thousand jobs that come with it here.
Frustrated Old Man December 09, 2012 at 03:21 PM
J.B. And if Snyder has his way, you'll be staffing your plants with imported immigrants at minimum wage, and zero benefits, rather than jobless citizens of Michigan.
Chris P. December 09, 2012 at 03:21 PM
I am very disturbed by the process that unfolded this week. Many people who did not vote for Prop 2 didn't because they were uncomfortable with changing the Constitution COMBINED with an assurance from Governor Snyder that they didn't need to; he said he would work with the unions. To say many people -- wherever they stand on the idea of Right to Work -- feel deceived by him is a gross understatement. I don't give a rip about what happened during the vote on health care. We're talking about the process of legislating in Michigan in the here and now and a Governor who seemed to deliberately mislead voters. I'm all for the need for our unions to evolve, but what happened this week was just wrong and very sad. I am deeply disappointed in our Governor and our GOP. Deeply. They have guaranteed a caustic, divisive tone in Lansing in the New Year and it's disappointing.
Chris P. December 09, 2012 at 03:26 PM
I actually know of several people who moved here from that situation to improve their quality of life. They are astounded this has happened here in Michigan and find the belief in the rhetoric to be very naive. Especially when there is data to show this may not be the best way to move the state forward. "More jobs" is only one metric that definitely does not tell the whole story. The fact that police and fire unions were exempt will make it tough to "can the Nerd." He'll have the GOP extremists taking over our state and those unions on his side. Pretty darn brilliant of him, come to think of it.
Mark December 09, 2012 at 04:03 PM
Agree JB. Daniel you can't ignore southern states having poor infrastructure, failing education systems producing legions of illiterate masses and scant diversification of commerce. None of these are products of being a RTW state. You're not a good debater sir.
J.B. December 09, 2012 at 04:51 PM
So, if he did what the Republican party told him to do, he would be a strong leader? Your post makes no sense.
Dale Murrish December 09, 2012 at 09:12 PM
It’s natural that liberals would long for bi-partisan days with moderate Republicans like Milliken. Conservatism has worked everywhere it has been tried. Rust belt states like Michigan have lost jobs to Right-to-Work states like Texas. From the Great Depression to the early 1980s recession to the Obama Administration-prolonged Great Recession of 2008, workers migrate to where the work is. This is a freedom issue. Freedom to associate or not to associate with a union. Public sector union membership has steadily declined over the years as workers have decided not to join unions. It’s a free country, folks, last I checked. Workers are free to leave their jobs and find better ones. The private sector is forced to compete in the marketplace to sell products, while public sector employees and “non-profits” like Planned Parenthood use tax money to lobby for more tax money from parents for education, etc. As jobs have been lost in high cost states, workers have migrated to lower cost states, where there is more economic growth. This so-called War on Middle Class Families is really a war on the Union Leadership that the hard-working families support with their union dues. Enough of the class warfare; let’s focus on real private sector economic growth policies, not government growth policies.
Dale Murrish December 09, 2012 at 09:13 PM
Public sector union membership has increased, as teachers and other government workers fight to keep their right to organize. States like Wisconsin have survived bitter fights against conservative governors who try to limit their power. As their policies have taken effect, the voters kept Governor Walker by a larger margin than he won by in the first place. Let’s hope Michigan learns from Wisconsin’s recent troubles and its own past decades of suffering and has a more civil transition to a new era of growth. It looks like Michigan may only have a week of loud protests instead of the months suffered by Wisconsin. http://troy.patch.com/blog_posts/public-sector-unions-the-next-budget-challenge Everywhere they have been tried, conservative policies work for growing the private sector. Socialist Big Government policies result in growth too: public sector growth. It would be nice if we had an unlimited deep pocket – but we do not. We are overspending by 40% and are on a fast track toward Greece unless we solve our overspending problem. Meanwhile our leaders in Washington play chicken with the fiscal cliff, establishment Republicans compromise and kick conservatives off committees as President Obama plays chicken with our country’s future, ready to blame Republicans if things go wrong, which they certainly will if we go off the cliff. While Obama points his finger at conservatives for obstructing “progress”, three are pointing back at himself.
Jim Rutkowski December 09, 2012 at 09:29 PM
Yes, the governor said RTW was not on his agenda since there were other pressing issues that held a higher priority. He did not actively campaign to develope the legislation. The House and Senate took it upon themselves to create the bill and Snyder said he would sign it. What I haven't read, is that the unions must now have to sell themselves to the workers and prove their worth. That is something the unions are not accustomed to doing since they have a captive membership. Suddenly, the membership has the ability to choose their representation. Are the unions worried about having to become more transparent?
Dale Murrish December 09, 2012 at 09:39 PM
As important as economic issues are (liberty), they pale in importance compared to the great moral issue of our day: the sanctity of human life. If one has no life, there is no liberty nor pursuit of happiness. My views on this are based on science: when egg meets sperm there is new DNA, division of cells and soon a new heartbeat. This is not a central issue for many voters and some hold the opposing view. America is supposed to have freedom for all views, however. At the 2012 convention the Democratic party platform was strengthened from making abortion “safe, legal and rare” to having abortions and abortifacient drugs (the Plan B morning after pill) be available ALL women, regardless of their ability to pay (tax funded abortions)? Meanwhile, principled pro-life candidates like Paul Ryan are treated with derision by fellow Catholics: http://troy.patch.com/blog_posts/joe-the-scoffer-vs-paul-the-planner If Americans do not keep the freedom of conscience, what do we have left of our common social fabric? http://troy.patch.com/blog_posts/freedom-of-conscience-the-foundational-freedom Big-city mayors try to block legitimate businesses from locating in their cities because “they don’t meet community values.” http://troy.patch.com/blog_posts/chicago-and-boston-mayors-attack-chick-fil-a
Dale Murrish December 09, 2012 at 09:41 PM
Sorry, Dick, but my values are being assaulted, and I will not be quiet about it. I will continue to speak for those who cannot speak. When was the last time anyone was forced to go to church in this country? It makes my stomach turn to hear people maligned on talk radio as trying to block Obamacare for religious reasons. Those people have no right to disrespect the sincerely held beliefs of others. There are pro-lifers of evangelical, Catholic, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Sikh, agnostic and atheist religious faiths.
FHVoice December 09, 2012 at 11:03 PM
Correct Susan.
FHVoice December 09, 2012 at 11:08 PM
"I was in a union when i was a kid, didn't want it, didn't need it and i was willing to rely on my work ethic and dedication to my job to progress and prosper." Seems like you are still thinking like a kid. The news of the modern economy is that your work ethic and dedication to your JOB is no longer a reliable pathway to progress nor prosperity. As a member of that union, you were paid a starting wage negotiated by that union. This union question is like the mechanics of a condo association. When you buy into one, you become part of and subject to the rules of that association. It is justified by insisting all members have a vote in the management of that association. You do not get to say "I don't want your snow cleaning services so I'm not going to pay association dues." Why, because although you didn't want to ay for it, you would get the same benefits from having to area streets cleared of snow without paying a dime. The same is true of union shops. The people who work there democratically vote on whether to have a union or not, and then they vote on the leadership of the union. The option for every individual is to leave the union shop and find an employer that does not have a union. Why should a person be able to live in the beneficial climate of a union and not have to pay for it?
FHVoice December 09, 2012 at 11:24 PM
Revenge of the Nerd? Yes, indeed. Get behind these lame duck initiatives and hope that the damaged unions will not be able to help unseat you in 2014. Let's make that Cowardly Revenge of the Nerd. To help people understand the questions at hand, consider this: A “right to work” law stops employers and employees from negotiating an agreement with a union security clause - it requires all workers who receive the benefits of a collective bargaining agreement to pay their share of the costs of representing them. #Right2Work4Less laws say that unions must represent every eligible employee, whether he or she pays dues or not. In other words, these laws allow workers to pay nothing and still get all the benefits of union membership. If a worker who is represented by a union and doesn’t pay dues is fired illegally, the union must use its time and money to defend him or her, even if that requires going through a costly, time-consuming legal process. Amazingly, nonmembers who are represented by a union can even sue the union is they think it has not represented them well enough! That is part of the reason why the GOP did not allow any public debate on the legislation it intends to pass! And with Devos and the Koch's behind the lying ad campaigns, you know it is an attack by plutocrats on the rest of us.
J.B. December 09, 2012 at 11:37 PM
If the unions have their way, we will be staffing our plants with Mexicans, in Mexico. Actually this very thing is already happening. The plant workers in the south make on par with the ones here. They make a few dollars an hour less with full benefits, but the cost of living is much cheaper there and they pay no union dues. So we look to Mexico for a cheaper solution.
Dick Jaeger December 10, 2012 at 12:50 AM
Most interesting to read the variety of responses to my orginal blog. To be sure I expected some response but certainly not the amount I got. Some were very well thought out - on both sides of the issues raised ponts deserving of consideration by all. Others though either missed the mark by begining from a flawed premis or misunderstanding the intent of my comments. I leave the reader to determine that for themselves. Some though went off on an irrelevant (to the blog) tangent. Points that may be well taken in another context but not not this one. With all due respect to Dale, for example, the disdain shown toward Paul Ryan or the so called fiscal cliff are interesting and worthy of discussion but not germain to my subject. As for the issue of Gov. Snyder and RTW I would refer you to the editorial in the Sunday Free Press lambasting Snyder and his position. I do stand on my position that the rights of a woman to make a decision on abortion or contraception should be her's and should follow the dicates and beliefs of her heart and not mandated by a law based on the religious views of any organization. That view is I believe Constutionally unassailable.
Homer Simpson December 10, 2012 at 01:03 AM
The poor infrastructure in the South is due to RTW? LMAO. They havent had an infrastructure since Sherman marched through.
Dean Massalsky December 10, 2012 at 05:43 AM
Here is the key reason this should be stopped. Not the only reason, but the most important : "This is the piece of the Right to Work legislation that you SHOULD be concerned about. "Republicans also put a $1,000,000 appropriation into their bills that prevents a citizen referendum on the new law once it’s passed. So, not only did Michiganders not have any input into the process before the Republicans steamrolled it through, there will be no input afterwards either." http://www.eclectablog.com/2012/12/michigan-when-plutocrats-rule.html
Keith Best December 10, 2012 at 01:05 PM
The minority (unionistas) was loud in Wisconsin's Capital as well. The majority spoke when they re-elected Gov. Scott Walker.
Keith Best December 10, 2012 at 01:06 PM
What is wrong with having a choice? That is the reason why this legislation should NOT be stopped.
Marcia Robovitsky December 10, 2012 at 01:42 PM
from: http://www.michigancapitolconfidential.com/18017 "The argument maintains that “nobody is forced to be in a union,” which is technically true, but a distinction without a difference — employees who work for the government or a unionized private company don't have to belong to the union; they just have to pay the “association fees.” Association fees, or agency fees, vary, but can represent up to 90 percent of the dues of full union members. This is established by U.S. Supreme Court case Communication Workers v. Beck, which held that an employee can opt out of the political portion of union dues. That is, employees should not have to be forced to pay for union lobbying or political work. Unfortunately, the types of activities workers can opt out of are very small. Even if workers resign their union membership because they do not want to pay for union politics they still must pay for things like “internal communications,” attempts to persuade members to vote a certain way, food for workers rallying outside the capitol and get-out-the-vote drives aimed only at the union’s members. These expenses can be much higher and are harder to track."
Marcia Robovitsky December 10, 2012 at 01:53 PM
As to the point of the blog...about open and transparent government... I agree. The public has the right to be informed/participate BEFORE votes are taken. Unfortunately, there are examples throughout government at all levels...including local municipal gov. where the leadership does what they want, when they want. I think they do it because the public is often unaware of upcoming agendas/legislation/decisions or simply seeming not interested in politics. Therefore the leadership feels they have the green light to do whatever.
Daniel JK December 10, 2012 at 02:01 PM
So, JB, what you're saying is that you believe southern states are just "awful places to live period" and you prefer locating your company there? That further strengthens my underlying criticism of right-to-work that companies locate to RTW states to take advantage of an already-hurting workforce. And I never said the poor infrastructure in the South was the entire fault of RTW- I inferred that is has handicapped those states from creating a desirable place to live. So, Mark, if you're going to call someone out on the strength of their debating you had better have far superior debate skills (and your pithy 3 sentenced comment shows you do not). I do, however, agree with Chris P. If the GOP had not exempted the law enforcement fraternities and first-responder unions they would have signed their own death warrant but I still believe the wound they inflicted on themselves will still do them in. As for further debating RTW through posts- no more. I've had my say and respect yours too. However, expect no more replies from me as I have work and studies to attend to- not to mention physical organizing against RTW.
mark otto December 10, 2012 at 03:20 PM
Union dues are like insurance. Many pay a small chunk to spread the risk. Other than contracts, you may never need the union. But I would rather pay a small "insurance" premium to know I will be covered. If you choose not to pay dues, you choose not to be covered and you should have to pay out of pocket. Its kind of like deciding if you want to pay for collision on an older car. Hopefully I will never need it, but if I do it will lessen my costs. If I choose not to pay for collision coverage someone else shouldn't have to pay for my car repairs. I made the decision now I live with it. Thats my idea ot RTW.
Mark December 10, 2012 at 04:44 PM
Make no mistake I wasn't debating you Daniel. I was pointing out the glaring flaws in the case you attempted to make for RTW destroying the Southern states.
FHVoice December 10, 2012 at 07:46 PM
Keith, you always have a choice: either work in a union shop or not.
FHVoice December 10, 2012 at 07:54 PM
Mark, that may be your idea, but that is not how R2W4L laws work: the union is still tasked with representing employees who opt out. and can be sued if the worker thinks the union did a poor job representing his interest. Your analogy might work better if you think of classic health insurance, where people who do not or can not pay still get some treatment regardless.
FHVoice December 10, 2012 at 08:07 PM
This time, this lame-duck GOP legislature has gone way beyond any sense of a "green light". Consider "Michigan GOP sneaks thru bills to limit women's access to abortion svcs during Right to Work madness" (http://goo.gl/6RDLd) and you will have to agree this is just ANOTHER naked power grab by the GOP.

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