House votes: Michigan is going to become a 'right-to-work' state for all
Union members from around the country rally today in Lansing.
December 11th, 2012
01:35 PM ET

House votes: Michigan is going to become a 'right-to-work' state for all

[Updated at 2:18 p.m. ET] Unless something else major happens, it looks like we're done here with the live blog.

But our colleagues over at CNNMoney.com will have you updated on the latest information.

[Updated at 1:35 p.m. ET] Michigan State Police are explaining two incidents that occurred during the protests.

There was an incident where pepper spray was used, but it was only because the crowd at the Capitol had grabbed an officer, according to their Twitter account.

Police also followed protesters over to the Romney building where the governor's office is. Now that both bills have passed, it will be Gov. Snyder who will sign the bills into law. Police encountered a bit of trouble at the building that resulted in two arrest.

[Updated at 1:35 p.m. ET] And the House just voted 58-52 for the bill affecting private workers.

So when Gov. Snyder signs the bills, as he's promised he will do, workers in the public and private sectors will no longer have to pay to join a union unless they want to.

It will be the 24th "right-to-work" state.

[Updated at 1:27 p.m. ET] We've got a few more speeches to go on the House floor.

After that lawmakers will vote on the bill as it relates to private workers. If this bill passes, both the bills for private and public workers will go to the desk of the governor.

[Updated at 1:11 p.m. ET] Michigan State Rep. (and prolific tweeter today) Barb Byrum just tweeted for calm:

We've also just received a statement from the House Democrat leader Richard E. Hammel (Mount Morris Township) and House Democratic Leader-Elect Tim Greimel (Auburn Hills in Michigan) also urging for nonviolence at protests.

“Right-to-work is contentious legislation that stirs up the passions of people on all sides of the issue. While we are committed to working against these measures with every legal means available, Rep. Doug Geiss (Taylor) and the entire Democratic caucus stands against the use of violence and do not condone its use.

We condemn violence, the destruction of property and all other illegal activity in the strongest possible terms. We urge our supporters and those who work for bargaining rights in Michigan to stand with us in our call for nonviolence."

[Updated at 12:51 p.m. ET] CNN's Alison Kosik says the numbers of protesters outside the capitol have fallen since the first vote, but there are still crowds outside. Kosik reports that Rev. Jesse Jackson went to the sit-in at the rotunda and prayed with them.

Kosik said that part of the reason so many people turned out to protest is because "unions are really at the fabric of so many people who live in Michigan."

"Unions were practically born here," she said.

iReporter: Faces of the 'Right to Work' protest

That's part of the reason this bill is so divisive.

"What this legislation will essentially mean is that if you are looking for a job here in Michigan you will not be forced to join a union," Kosik explained.

Kosik said that while the first bill already passed, and protesters know that likely means the second bill relating to private workers will too, they are making their voices heard for the future.

"What they are looking towards it the next election and changing the makeup of the legislature," she said.

[Updated at 12:51 p.m. ET] If you're wondering what this fight is all about, here's an explanation from the Gov. Rick Snyder and the Michigan State AFL-CIO President, who are on opposite sides on this issue.

Synder, in a blog entry on his website, said he thinks Republicans weren't trying to destroy unions.

"We owe much to the labor movement - the end of child labor, the 40-hour work week, safe working conditions in factories, and a guaranteed minimum wage," he said. "The labor movement is an important part of Michigan's fabric, and nothing about this proposal eliminates it."

But Michigan State AFL-CIO President Karla Swift said the bill doesn't help workers at all.

"In the wake of this legislation, the only 'freedom' gained for Michigan workers will be the freedom to make less, the freedom to be disrespected at work, the freedom to struggle to pay their bills and the freedom to be left out of the American dream," she said.

[Updated at 12:48 p.m. ET] Here's a little background from our colleagues at CNNMoney.com on why all eyes are on this state as they look to pass measures for both private and public workers.

There are 23 states which have right-to-work laws, mostly in the South and western plains states, where union membership is relatively weak. Nationwide, union membership stands at 11.8%.

Michigan, the birthplace of the United Auto Workers where 17.5% of employees are represented by unions, would be by far the most heavily unionized state to pass such legislation. It would join neighboring Indiana in converting to right-to-work this year.

[Updated at 12:46 p.m. ET] One Michigan State Police trooper used "O/C spray" (known as pepper spray) on one person outside of the Michigan capitol, the police department said on their official Twitter account.

[Updated at 12:45 p.m. ET] While we wait for the upcoming second vote we'll take a little break to talk about the mood around Lansing today.

Professional photographer John McGraw submitted an iReport from the protests and said the mood was "definitely controlled anger"

"They were pretty upset about the way this has come to be, that it was all of a sudden," he told CNN's iReport. "I thought it was a very interesting process to see that many people come and attempt to have their voices heard. There were people on the other side of the issue. Not many, but there were few. Even though they were yelling back and forth, it was peaceful. They were getting heated verbally, but nothing physical."

[Updated at 12:39 p.m. ET] Lawmakers are debating the bill right now inside the House chambers. After they are all done speaking the vote on private workers will begin.

[Updated at 12:28 p.m. ET] This was the scene as Michigan State Police left their staging area a little earlier today. The photo was just filed by Getty photographer Bill Pugliano.

[Updated at 12:21 p.m. ET] The House is now preparing to vote on the "Right to Work" bill as it relates to private workers.

[Updated at 12:19 p.m. ET] The chants from the sit-in are growing louder. Protesters are holding signs and chanting: "Veto." "Veto."

[Updated at 12:12 p.m. ET] Here's where things stand now. The Senate passed the bill  on Friday. Now that the House has done the same the bill relating to public workers will go to Michigan's governor. Next up: The bill on private workers.

Gov. Rick Snyder told CNN on Friday that he had already had a lot of discussion on the issue with labor leaders and Democrats, and that he will sign the bill when it reaches his desk.

"I had said right-to-work was not on my agenda," he told CNN. "It's a divisive issue, and we had higher priorities. What was happening after the election, this issue was coming up whether I wanted it or not. I'm ready to sign."

[Updated at 12:10 p.m. ET] CNN field producer, Julian Cummings, inside the Capitol reports a sit-in occurring now in the rotunda.

"The people, united, will never be defeated" is the chant, again and again, from the protesters in the sit-in.

iReport: Tempers flare at protest

[Updated at 12:09 p.m. ET] Passions are high and the words on the signs are pretty blunt among the protesters outside.

[Updated at 12:04 p.m. ET] The House voted on the bill relating to public workers and it has just passed 58-51.

[Updated at 12:02 p.m. ET] We're now hearing from Detroit Free Press political reporter Kathy Gray that the vote has begun on the bill.

[Updated at 11:57 a.m. ET] Detroit Free Press political reporter Kathy Gray tweets that the vote on the "Right to Work" bill should come soon with only two speakers left.

Curious exactly what is being debated on the floor right now? Here's a link to the Michigan Legislature where you can find a copy of the bill.

[Updated at 11:52 a.m. ET] CNN affiliate WILX reports that in addition to those protesting there are state troopers with pepper spray, batons and tear canisters to keep order in case things get out of hand.

"No justice. No Peace," chants ring out through the crowds, WILX reported.

[Updated at 11:42 a.m. ET] No surprise that activist and Michigan native Michael Moore has an eye on this.

[Updated at 11:33 a.m. ET] Here's a scene from a little earlier showing a pretty heavy police presence at the entrance to the Michigan House Chamber ahead of the debate and vote.

[Updated at 11:28 a.m. ET] The debate goes on in the Michigan state legislature. You can watch a live stream of the events right here.

[Updated at 11:16 a.m. ET] There are a lot of people watching and talking about what's going on.

Here's former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm:

And here's a tweet from the office of the man at the center, current Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, who may earn his @onetoughnerd Twitter name:

[Updated at 11:07 a.m. ET] Bob King, the president of the UAW union, just told CNN's Poppy Harlow that he sees the bill now being voted on as a threat to rights. "It demonstrates to workers and really a broad spectrum of the populous that we have to work hard, we have to fight hard to protect our rights."

Harlow asked why King was opposed to allowing people to have a choice on whether or not to pay union dues - one of the measures being discussed. "They already have that choice," he said.

"You don't have to be a union member. But you have to pay your fair share. Just like if you live in a community, you pay for your fair share of the road cleaning, of the police, of the fire," King argued. "People who benefit by [the union's] collective bargaining benefit by this procedure. They pay a fair share of the cost of representation."

Of course this is close to home in Michigan, the home of the Big Three automakers and birthplace of the UAW.

[Updated at 11:02 a.m. ET] CNN's Alison Kosik outside the state capitol building says although it looks like the vote will pass, the protesters around her want to know their voices have been heard. They tell her they will have the power come election time in two years to take further action.

[Posted at 10:53 a.m. ET] We're watching live video pictures of crowds of people at the Michigan State Capitol as we wait to find out what will happen in a controversial move that could affect every worker in the state, and perhaps beyond.

The legislature looks set to pass a "right-to-work" bill aimed at the organized labor unions that are so powerful there.

CNN Money identifies the arguments for and against the measure in this way:

Advocates of the bill say it will help attract businesses to the state, but critics say that it would weaken labor's bargaining strength by cutting union financial resources without doing anything to bring in more jobs.

CNNMoney's Chris Isidore also reports that labor unions are planning huge protests at the capitol building in Lansing and we hear from Michigan State Police that the building keeps hitting its official capacity as the crowds come in and out.

soundoff (385 Responses)
  1. Mike S

    Today's Union demonstration goes to show why Michigan is in the sorry state that it is today.
    The Unions are trying to maintain their tyranny over who gets to work. This is anti-democratic and people should have the right to work without fear of prosecution from special groups (the Union).
    The damage is being done right now to image of Michigan by the Unions will only insure that businesses stay away from Michigan or building new manufacturing plants in that state.

    December 11, 2012 at 12:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • carl47

      you are so right

      December 11, 2012 at 12:20 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Jay

    Join a Union, I don't care, pay Union dues if you want to, I don't care, it's your choice, but the State should not automatically deduct fees from all employees. If they want to pay the dues, pay it by check themselves. Also, financially this is the right move, there are hidden taxes in the Dodd Frank bill on money transfers, and for all we know, these automatic transactions to Unions could be taxed, and that is just another tab for the State to pick up.
    Personally unions have no place in the modern workforce, they're obsolete, and we have federal regulations that cover most issues. I live in SC, and Boeing was going to hire here, well what happened was that they had to lay off SC employees and replace them with Union employees from up north. What makes a Union employee better than another? Nothing, there no more educated, no smarter, and produce no more work than that regular average Joe. Unions just want their shadow money, and the Democrats are crying, because it is laundered to them.

    December 11, 2012 at 12:05 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Law Dig

    Put all the union mafia cri minals in prison.

    December 11, 2012 at 12:07 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Marni

    I live in Michigan. If R-T-W was put before the VOTERS and the VOTERS approved a ballot initiative, I may not like it but I would accept it. The lame-duck legislature is ram rodding THEIR agenda down our throats. Where are we, the citizens of Michigan, represented in this?? My senator and representative will not respond to any of my emails, v:messages or phone calls. The Governor has already been recorded as saying this is 'pay back for the union backing Proposal 2". I am an independent / moderate voter and this has guaranteed I will never vote for another Republican.

    December 11, 2012 at 12:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • blaster34

      And yet the people of MI overwhemingly voted down putting C-B into the state Constitution, 58-42. Amazing that calling for that refendum was the catalyst for this vote. Go figure. Unions, what goes around, comes around.

      December 11, 2012 at 12:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Whitey

      Given that the bill has been debated since at least February (based on the details online), only the timing of the vote gives that impression. Frankly, I'm much more astonished that any lame-duck legistature is able to get something done at all. That said, please explain why giving workers the option to choose is such a bad thing. Unions aren't being outlawed in Michigan. The sky is certainly NOT falling.

      December 11, 2012 at 12:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Marni

      Yes the voters of Michigan turned down Proposal 2. Exit polls showed people were in favor of collective bargaining but didn't feel it needed to be an amendment to our constitution. And, yes, Whitney the bill has been TALKED about since February but our Legislature didn't have the cajones to act on it until AFTER the election. Why? Too busy worrying out their fellow Republican and their party.

      December 11, 2012 at 1:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • BCDad

      I, too, live in MI and could see this coming from a mile away when the unions (read...Democrats) attacked with Prop 2 and now the other side (Republicans) is counter-attacking. It's that way when politicians see things as a war against the other side. You see it playing out in Washington D.C with the fiscal cliff negotiations, too. In the R-T-W situation, it's the majority Republicans taking it to the Democrats...in D.C., it's the 'resurgent' Democrats on the offensive. Democracy isn't intended to be easy or 'clean.' Interesting perspective from my STRONG Democrat dad...he didn't like 'management' or the unions because he said you really couldn't tell them apart....both had the same agenda: $$ and power.

      December 11, 2012 at 3:20 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Portland tony

    There is nothing inherently wrong with collective bargaining. After all it takes two sides to come to an agreement. When those accuse Unions of bargaining for exorbitant wages and benefits, remember, the management side can always refuse. An individual, has a very slim chance of successful negotiations with a firm for better working conditions or higher wages. Whereas a union with experienced negotiaters can more than likely set the stage for a fair and equitable labor contract. For this effort, the union must collect dues. Again, neither side is going to negotiate themselves into bankruptcy ...at least not on purpose!

    December 11, 2012 at 12:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • SmarterThan I Look

      Yea, the companies can refuse to give the union workers a wage increase and then the extortion begins when they walk out and go on strike until they get their way. As far as negotiating themselves into bankruptcy do you even know what the pensions and healthcare of union members is doing to companies. Your head is either in the clouds or up your butt.

      December 11, 2012 at 12:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Marni

      SmarterthanIlook – In Grandville, Michigan, the teachers have made wage and benefit concessions for the past TWELVE years in order to help the school district meet it's financial obligation. Their wages have not increased at the rate of inflation. I work at a company which hires new team members at $20,000 a year MORE than a beginning teacher. Same education = less pay.

      December 11, 2012 at 12:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • bait2plate

      Unions kill US Business with their overpriced wages which destroy our competitive edge from overseas. That's why the jobs leave and the ones that stay here are being picked off or cripled. We are surviving because we have no useless, greedy unions picking our labor's pockets and costing us market share. Look at the union houses, they are dying. The State got rid of the insurance that was brother in lawed in and now the State is coming back by saving a fortune. Union crooks take notice, we are on to you.

      December 11, 2012 at 12:52 pm | Report abuse |
  6. SmarterThan I Look

    It's really nice that the schools had to be shut down so that the teachers could protest. Yea, who gives a damn about the kids anyway. The less they know the more apt they are to join a union.

    December 11, 2012 at 12:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • dru leppek

      Do you really think that all of those protesting are teachers..? Maybe you should crawl back under your rock Patrick

      December 11, 2012 at 1:12 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Dale

    I live in Florida, a right-to-work state. I was just terminated by my company (a Fortune 500) because I became disabled. This would be against the law in many places. Not in a right-to-work state though. The employer/employee relationship is such that either can walk away at any time. No need for company loyalty anymore, you're out if you can't do your job for any reason. Or gender, color ...

    December 11, 2012 at 12:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jesse

      Dale,

      It still illegal in FL under The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA)

      December 11, 2012 at 3:54 pm | Report abuse |
  8. SpencerRifle

    Make paying union dues voluntary for all workers. The NRA, ACLU, Planned Parenthood, Red Cross, Salvation Army, & other organizations fight for all people regardless of whether that person supports them financially. If the unions are truly for "the working man" let them solicit contributions & do it that way.

    December 11, 2012 at 12:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • No101

      YOU ARE SO UNINFORMED AND HAVE FORGOTTEN YOUR HISTORY!!! RTW WILL DESTROY THE UNIONS! If union dues are optional who will pay them? The union has to fight for payers and non-payers. That’s not fair. Non-payers still get to benefit from what the union does. With fewer people paying union dues, the union can’t afford to function. The same unions that fought to established child labor laws, helped fight for worker benefits so that parents could cover their children's health needs, safe working conditions to keep a parent safe, and 40 hour work weeks so that parents can spend time with their children. Oh and don't forget a fair pay so that their parents wouldn't have to send their children into the factories to work in the first place. Apparently, you want to teach your child that standing up for what you believing in is wrong, and to be a thoughtless adult who follows the crowd. Good luck with that one!

      December 11, 2012 at 1:03 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Ron

    Your live female reporter from the Michigan demonstration agaist right to work legislation said that the labor movement began in the 30's in Michigan needs to go back to school. The labor movement began far earlier in the coal mining communities. Check your history. Miners were killed (many mysteriously) in fights with the military (who were brought in by President Wilson) and by hired thugs for mine owners. Miners were foreign minorities who had no voice and no vote in their own communities, states, and, therefore, federal elections.

    December 11, 2012 at 12:17 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Me

    Oh yeah, a sit in will go far. The MSP will just come in an clear them all out and then they'll lock the door. Snyder will sign his name and it will be over. The Unions stupid tactics aren't going to work in politics.

    December 11, 2012 at 12:17 pm | Report abuse |
  11. jgilbert2020

    This law is union busting at it's finest – the fact is that contracts that unions bargain for sometimes take two or three years to get, but it eventually it gets done and the membership has a good contract. If members are paying for union rights (the better working conditions) and a contract isn't settled in a year – the first thing they are going to think of is" well, then what am I paying for – I guess I am just going to stop paying my union dues" and then the land slide happens – they stop paying, others stop paying and then the unions can keep working and fighting for decent wages and benefits. So – all this means is that when unions are negotiating with administrators, the administrators can just refuse refuse refuse until it gets to the point that the union members are tired of paying for union dues. Eventually the school district or company administration gets what they wanted – not having to give their workers a tiny raise or decent benfits. Completely corporate greed motivated.

    Now – downside number two – all the phenomenal teacher candidates coming out of Michigan colleges are going to be getting as far away from MI as possible because the pay and benefits are awful – how will that reflect on youth and student achievement? The same goes for businesses – if workers get paid less and worse benefits – why stay in MI and contribute? Go to a state that will pay you more and take your talents there. Where will the MI talent be? Not in MI.

    Just my 2 cents...

    December 11, 2012 at 12:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Network

      I sure hope it bust the unions. They are the reason that all the jobs are going to china and also the reason that i have to pay $35,000 for a car

      December 11, 2012 at 12:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • jgilbert2020

      @ Network – if it busts the unions, I hope you enjoy paying less for a car but more for repairs since the workers that assembled your car don't really care about their jobs since they have awful wages and no benefits = the men and women making your car had to get a second job to make ends meet, so they can't focus on building a quality product.

      December 11, 2012 at 12:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Michael

      I'm sure there are plenty of quality small business auto repair shops that would love to work on your car.

      December 11, 2012 at 12:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • bait2plate

      Good riddance to the union drones. They don't hit a lick like a real worker who has to work smart to keep his job. I've seen what the union worker is like firsthand and "nothing" could replace them. Really, no worker can be the same as having a union worker.

      December 11, 2012 at 12:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • BCDad

      Fortunately, new MI graduates going into teaching don't have to look very far for some of the highest paid teaching jobs in the world – Chicago. Unfortunately (there's always the flip side of the coin), they'll be working in one of the most under-acheiving school districts in the world, too.

      December 11, 2012 at 3:30 pm | Report abuse |
  12. blaster34

    Hey unions elections have consequences? You lost, the Governor won, get used to it! Sound familiar? LOL

    December 11, 2012 at 12:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Whitney

      Do you even live in Michigan? Rick Synder is a one term governor and this is not the first time he pull something like this

      December 11, 2012 at 12:47 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Network

    No on working huh? Sound like the dems

    December 11, 2012 at 12:19 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Paul

    Looks like it passed and is about to get signed....

    December 11, 2012 at 12:20 pm | Report abuse |
  15. dudeuloose

    Today's gangsters- intimidating the honest worker, taking away the workers freedom to choose. Where are all you pro-choice people, stand up for freedom!

    December 11, 2012 at 12:24 pm | Report abuse |
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