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. FTC

    Setting aside what the unions want, what does the general population of Michigan want? Has anyone seen any polls?

    December 11, 2012 at 1:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Josh

      Once you leave it up to a general election then you leave it to the Big Unions to use their money to steer the election. Just like they did here in California with Prop. 32

      December 11, 2012 at 1:06 pm | Report abuse |
  2. bigdumbdinosaur

    Typical feeble-minded union reaction. Unions have done a lot to rob the USA of her industrial might. It's time for these relics of the industrial revolution to disappear.

    December 11, 2012 at 1:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Portland tony

      Right ...Look at China ...No Unions and all workers are happy, treated with respect and make excellent wages!

      December 11, 2012 at 1:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mickey1313

      Um are you aware that the strongest our nation had ever been was when unions were at there strongest. The more union job there are, the higher the national average pay is. It is fact.

      December 11, 2012 at 1:14 pm | Report abuse |
  3. McRCN

    Mr President,

    "Elections have Consequences" works both ways. This is a state issue and not a federal issue.

    December 11, 2012 at 1:04 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Sal

    You anti union people are a bunch of idiots! Don't you realize what helps the Unions helps all American workers. Use your head people! 

    December 11, 2012 at 1:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cindy massengale

      Texas is a right to work state and has a great economy. Lots of jobs, lower cost of living and affordable housing. Over 300 people move here every day. No state income tax. Unions are only good for unions bosses.

      December 11, 2012 at 1:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Diddly

      Unions had their place in the 1920-1930 but now-a-days when national laws protect workers and insure good working conditions along with minimum wage. Unions are no longer necessary and just rob people of their money.

      December 11, 2012 at 1:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • comeonman

      Yeah it'll help me and my neightbors who living in a Florida tourist town that caters to Canadians and Latin Americans. We'll love paying $40 for $9 jeans so that people in the closed shop states to the north can afford their Harley payments. Thanks a bazillion.

      December 11, 2012 at 1:30 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Mickey1313

    So called right to work laws are always bad for workers, and only benefit the 1% this nation has to stop bending over to the elite and take this country back.

    December 11, 2012 at 1:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Portland tony

      Right ... look at China ...No unions and all workers are happy and well paid. A working Paradise.

      December 11, 2012 at 1:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mickey1313

      Pt, you are either missing what is being said, or drunk. China is my point. With no collective bargining the rights of their workers are nill. If the workers have the power then they have better pay better benefits and better work conditions. Rights to work is a euphemism to steal collective bargining from the people.

      December 11, 2012 at 1:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • comeonman

      Mickey closed shop is a euphemism to force/steal union dues from the people who just want to work without the union BS.

      December 11, 2012 at 1:36 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Dan

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

    AND THAT IS THE WAY IT SHOULS BE.

    December 11, 2012 at 1:08 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Mark

    Unions don't get it – they have had the power, because of enslavement of their workers, forced to pay dues. If the unions provide a good service, then those same people will pay dues, if not, they won't. My guess is that union dues will drop in half, Democrats will lose elections and the people of this country will win.

    December 11, 2012 at 1:09 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Kellie

    "These so-called 'right-to-work' laws, they don't have anything to do with economics. They have everything to do with politics," Obama said. "What they're really talking about is they're giving you the right to work for less money."

    That's almost funny coming from the President who has overseen an economy in which for the first time in a generation, the average wage rate (adjusted for inflation), the labor force participation rate and the average net worth of the American family have gone down markedly.

    December 11, 2012 at 1:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • cnnmembuh

      Exactly right. Median incomes increased every single year from 1980 until 2009, and have declined each year since.

      December 11, 2012 at 1:20 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Mark

    Obama is probably having a heart attack – unions will lose money, Democrats will lose jobs!!! Hurray!!!

    December 11, 2012 at 1:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Miyafuji

      Let me fix that. Unions lose money, everyone will lose jobs, the economy falls, everyone suffers but the 1%

      December 11, 2012 at 1:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • s kel

      I cant belive the ignorance and stupidy of the right wing want America to fail union busting give the wealthy a bigger profit lay off any one the big boss wants with no cause,Pres. Obama hating, forgot Republicans lost, lying sneaking way this fasist MI republican lead adm. are!

      December 11, 2012 at 1:28 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Miyafuji

    2 more years... 2 more years until I'm of age to vote these dummkopfs out. They, the people in charge in Michigan, seem to only care about themselves and the ones who do seem to care aren't at that power level.

    December 11, 2012 at 1:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • cnnmembuh

      I don't want to see anybody lose their job. If you were paying attention, the primary reason GM was driven to bankruptcy was the overabundant retirement packages which were negotiated by unions and demanded to be paid in full. If the package is not economically sustainable, the company will fold and all will suffer. We have minimum wage laws, OSHA, EEOC, and a myriad of laws and regulations which more than protect workers. Entrenched union thuggary will only serve to force jobs overseas and/or businesses to avoid further human resource expense which will ultimately break the company. Just common sense.

      December 11, 2012 at 1:32 pm | Report abuse |
  11. ames

    Why should someone be force to join an Union to take a job.....that seems to be taking away freedom of choice from people....maybe they don't give a damn about unions or paying dues or having to strike when called for....maybe they just want to go to work...

    December 11, 2012 at 1:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Scott

      ames,
      How else is the mafia, errrr I mean unions, going to shake down people so that they can give their top goons lavish salaries?

      Scott

      December 11, 2012 at 1:25 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Scott

    Score one for the good guys!!!!

    Scott

    December 11, 2012 at 1:20 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Mark

    Once folks realize the unions were just taking their money and they were getting nothing for it – the government of Michigan will change – to 100% Republican!!! Goodbye Demonuts!!!

    December 11, 2012 at 1:20 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Scott

    OUTSTANDING! The mafia goons, errrr I mean union "enforcers" Guido, Vito, Vinnie and Antonio lost another one. The mafia, darn, I mean union, :enforcers" should never have had the "right" to force a person to join their crime family so that the person could get a job.

    Scott

    December 11, 2012 at 1:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Scott

      Pathetically interesting that CNN bars the use of the word "thŭgѕ", as in union thŭgѕ.

      Scott

      December 11, 2012 at 1:23 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Diddly

    Follow Wisconsin :D

    December 11, 2012 at 1:21 pm | Report abuse |
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