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. carrol

    At one time, unions served a very useful purpose, but graft and corruption moved the unions away from protecting workers to destroying companies. When the union demands basically killed the economy in Michigan, many, many folks went to Texas. One slogan in Texas was "Will the last person leaving Michigan, turn off the lights?" Comparing Michigan's economy to Texas', wonder where I'd put my new company.

    December 11, 2012 at 1:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • Matt

      Ah yes Texas the lowest pay in the country outside of SC! Brag on!

      December 11, 2012 at 2:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • JeremyH6

      Matt, you are wrong.

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

    Notice that they still needed the police state to bust some heads, and did not take away the union rights of the police.

    December 11, 2012 at 1:57 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Anonymous

    Seriously? As the rich, greedy CEO's of Hostess were pocketing hundreds of thousands of dollars in bonuses even as they took their company bankrupt...but it's the worker's fault, sure ;)

    December 11, 2012 at 2:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • RK

      The old union bakers should enjoy their moral superiority while they can. Someone will buy the Hostess brand out of bankruptcy court, build a new factory in a right-to-work state, and crank out the freshly profitable snacks made by people who are happy to have a job.

      Or, we can pass a law preventing anyone from ever making another twinkie at wages lower than those demanded by the former bakers; in which case, no one will ever employ anyone to make a twinkie ever again.

      Reality sucks. Welcome to it.

      December 11, 2012 at 2:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Gator Mann

      I think somebody will buy the Hostes brands, but unlike you I don't think they will move to a Right To Work State. I belive the next "New" Ho Ho or Twinkie we eat will be MADE in CHINA. Twinkies last for ever. Why pay an American Baker $7.50hr when a Chinaman will do it for .75 Cent a hour? These politicians (both Partys) are selling US out to the highest corporate bidder. Little by little the Robber Barons are coming back!

      December 11, 2012 at 2:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • brad

      Yah.....and the main robber barons name is Barack Hussain Obama (and friends.....ie: nancy pelosi, harry reed, ect ect)

      December 11, 2012 at 3:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Fran L.

      And they'll be making $8.50 an hour without insurance. Hey folks..... ever hear of the income inequalities in this country? The diminishing middle class? This legislation promotes the cause of the Koch Brothers and other corporate fat cats. It does nothing for workers other than lowering wages/benefits.

      December 11, 2012 at 3:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • jamie

      "diminishing middle class"

      2 % of Americans are rich according to Obama and about 12% live in poverty. So, if my math is correct that about 86% of Americans who are in the middle class. so, how is the middle class diminishing?

      December 11, 2012 at 3:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Portland tony

      So everyone who makes more than $12K and less than $1M is middle class? Huh!

      December 11, 2012 at 3:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • We need unions!!!

      I don't know where you're getting your information from but if my math is correct you're saying that 88% of the American people are prospering... Do your homework before making such an uninformed post!!!

      December 11, 2012 at 9:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Portland tony

      Hostess has been floundering for years. Any business major could have told you their cost structure, even with negotiated wage cuts, was unmanageable. Their branded product names were worth more than the company's physical assets. Just remember, all union contracts were negotiated by union AND management!

      December 11, 2012 at 4:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • humberto

      A Baker knows how to make bread.

      December 11, 2012 at 6:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Steve

      Rofl..ya its the CEO's fault..that ONE guy not the thousands of people demanding 50$ hour for zero skill jobs.

      December 11, 2012 at 3:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • NC_Right

      I totaly agree

      December 11, 2012 at 3:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • We need unions!!!

      Every job has a certain skill! Don't be so quick to judge someone who's trying to make a living and realize the American dream! I'd like to know what you do for a living and what your hourly wage is and why you think that your better than somebody else just because you might have a college education and these people don't! The CEO's that you're so quick to defend can work 1 year and retire without ever having to work again while these so called "zero skilled" employees would be lucky to retire after 35 or 40 years on the job!

      December 11, 2012 at 9:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • justageek

      Pfft...the executive bonuses amounted to a little over $0.16 per hour per bakers union employee per year so a non issue.

      December 11, 2012 at 3:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Biff

      if you are a rich CEO are you going to work for free to unwind a bankrupt company that has put you out of work? No you're going to go get another job. So to keep them there until the bitter end you have to give them money- only a wrench turning moron doesn't understand this concept

      December 11, 2012 at 11:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sean

      Thank you...finally someone who speaks the truth about the Hostess shut down! Also I would like to add that you called it their company (as in the CEO's)...but nope it was simply someone else's creation that they took over and destroyed.

      December 13, 2012 at 7:17 pm | Report abuse |
  4. amazedamerican

    well Michigan – get ready for lower wages... more outsourcing..... say what you will about unions and corruption, but they did provide a reality check for companies running rough shod over the worker. At the start of the Industrial Revolution, conditions for the avg worker were deplorable and dangerous....and the pay was next to unlivable.

    Falling wages .... Has everyone forgotten how we achieved the relatively high standard of living? – I ask because so far in the last two decades we ve removed tariffs and regulations protecting american jobs and now companies can pay us third world wages....seems like we are headed full tilt the wrong way....

    December 11, 2012 at 2:02 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Loathstheright

    Hopefully the people of Michigan will smarten up and vote out the republicans.

    December 11, 2012 at 2:05 pm | Report abuse |
  6. s kel

    larry, funfor1 I would love to meet u 2. LoL,yep in person.

    December 11, 2012 at 2:05 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Libdumb

    Fantastic. Finally a State with economic sense. Bye Unions. You are nothing more than a corrupt Political organization.

    December 11, 2012 at 2:06 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Ann

    My parents were union. My grandparents were union. My husband is in a union. My parents went to college because their parents made decent wages. I went to college because my parents made decent wages. Now I get to tell my kids, sorry but the state of Michigan has complete contempt for its citizens, especially teachers, so no college for you.

    December 11, 2012 at 2:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • JeremyH6

      So instantly, your pay dropped because of this decision?

      Don't be ridiculous. I have never been part of a union and I get paid well to do my job. Unions are a thing of the past...

      December 11, 2012 at 2:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Too bad

      My father didn't work in a union, and I still went to college. Don't blame your kids college education on the "right to work" bill. If you still want to pay your union dues and still want your union to fight for you, go right ahead. But don't blame it on this law.

      December 11, 2012 at 2:20 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Zandigra

    This is a great day for freedom! Way to go Michigan!!!!

    December 11, 2012 at 2:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • jamie

      So, your logic is to force companies to pay high wages? Wages are based on the profits/losses of a business. If a company is making a lot of profit, it makes sense to pay an employee well, but if they are not making that much profit, this does not make sense. This situation is what put GM in bankruptcy.

      December 11, 2012 at 2:44 pm | Report abuse |
  10. jamie

    The fact that a state would make laws forcing someone to "join a union" before being able to work in a job is wrong to begin with. Unraveling those crazy laws makes sense, especially for a state in such a downward spiral as Michigan. It is because of these unions that things have gotten this bad. Do a youtube search for Ruins of Detroit by Steven Crowder.

    December 11, 2012 at 2:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Matt

      Detroit is still HEAVEN compared to the entire states of Mississippi, AL, SC, and Texas.

      December 11, 2012 at 2:13 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Foreverwar

    Great day for low wages, way to go GOP!

    December 11, 2012 at 2:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • jamie

      So, your logic is to force companies to pay high wages? Wages are based on the profits/losses of a business. If a company is making a lot of profit, it makes sense to pay an employee well, but if they are not making that much profit, this does not make sense. This situation is what put GM in bankruptcy.

      December 11, 2012 at 2:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • amazedamerican

      "Wages are based on the profits/losses of a business."

      If that statement was true, then there'd be no need for unions at all. as far as GM is concerned, being out of touch with the market is what caused most of their problems...

      December 11, 2012 at 2:56 pm | Report abuse |
  12. amazedamerican

    ....because minimum wage is the best path to a prosperous nation...

    December 11, 2012 at 2:11 pm | Report abuse |
  13. RK

    And I suppose the mob violence and the threats of "bloodshed" from state legislators will be all over the evening news, CNN, MSNBC, etc.,with lots of hand-wringing and tongue-clucking about the irresponsible "violent rhetoric" leading to actual violence.

    Ya sure.

    I assume if you want to see the video of the violent mob attack, you'll have to check out non-mainstream sources. Again.

    December 11, 2012 at 2:11 pm | Report abuse |
  14. John

    Oh no! A law passed that doesn't make people pay around $70 to join a union they were forced to join?! THE WHOLE ECONOMY IS DOOMED!

    But in all seriousness, unions do nothing to help. My last union made me join to get my job for $75 then charged me $22 a month to be a member while also getting 10% of everything I made, for a paid by the hour job. Not only did this union not help me, they then didn't even inform me that I had been let go by my job when I went away and kept charging me membership fees. Yeah, unions are totally great.

    December 11, 2012 at 2:11 pm | Report abuse |
  15. PMB

    Really "Anonymous"? You're going to use Hostess as your defense against unions? What did the "union" do to help these workers out besides taking their jobs away? You want to also say the corporate people still took all the money? Well this all happened in a UNION shop...so what the hel l is the difference if the company is union or not? Your argument just backfired...that's an example for anti-union not pro-union..moron.

    December 11, 2012 at 2:11 pm | Report abuse |
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