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. Military vet

    Hello Michigan – Welcome to the poverty of Texax, Mississippi & the South. No power, no protection, no recourse. You are about to enter the golden age of falling wages, decreasing benefits, no job security, and managerial dictatorship. Thank you GOP for pounding another nail in the coffin of the middle class.

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

      Another ignorant view....

      December 11, 2012 at 2:14 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 2:46 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Patrick Nolan

    Marx was right. Workers of the World unite–let the revolution begin!

    December 11, 2012 at 2:12 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • DustyOnes

      Yea...it worked so well the last few times. (China, Russia, etc.)

      December 11, 2012 at 2:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • josh rogen

      being forced to join a union is not freedom, have the choice is

      December 11, 2012 at 2:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Julia

      Yes, let's build a workers paradise like North Korea or Cuba.

      December 11, 2012 at 2:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jaime

      Give it a go. Myself and plenty of others are ready for you idiot masses.

      December 11, 2012 at 2:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Infidel Castro

      Move to Cuba-great weather, Socialist Paradise

      December 11, 2012 at 2:21 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Martyr2

    "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."

    Ummm what? You can be forced out of a job if you don't join the union. I was never able to bargain with the employer directly and be outside the union. I was told straight up "You must join the union if you want the job". Then of course they then require their dues. So I have no clue what that guy is saying.

    December 11, 2012 at 2:13 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • BDowns12

      But that is the issue. A union negotiates for all the employees. Do you propose that if the union negotiates a 10% raise for employees and an extra 48 hours of leave, that those terms will only apply to union members. Those who choose not to joint the union just dont get paid as much or get the same benfits. That is not practical.

      December 11, 2012 at 2:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • BDowns12

      I think you should hold votes every couple of years to either keep the union or get rid of it, but if the union is there it is there.

      December 11, 2012 at 2:18 pm | Report abuse |
  4. DustyOnes

    The only people that need unions are union executives, politicians and inept workers.

    December 11, 2012 at 2:14 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Rod

      or people making a puny wage like $10-15 an hour.

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

      $15/hr in flyover country for menial day labor is plenty. Hell, 90% of the world's people would take that gig.

      December 11, 2012 at 2:25 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Wes

    My dad was a union worker. My mom was not. My dad made crap for wages and my mom made twice as much as him. Wonder why

    December 11, 2012 at 2:14 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • s kel

      lier ,damn why do u republicans lie soo much??

      December 11, 2012 at 2:44 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Cha Cha Brown

    Good. Now get out the water cannons. I love watching the power of those things.

    December 11, 2012 at 2:15 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  7. humberto

    The Politicians overstepped their authority and committed a criminal act when they undermined the majority of workers at any given business that created a union.

    December 11, 2012 at 2:15 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  8. DemsClueless

    UNIONS STILL WILL EXIST... just because the people WHO DONT WANT IN dont have to pay anymore, doesnt make the union go away... If you want something, make it YOURSELF and stop relying on everyone else to get you where you think you need to be.

    DO FOR YOURSELF and stop being so needy... UNIONS are great for THOSE WHO WANT IT. And don't say "its good for you so why wouldn't you want it?" Because we were already FORCEFED Obamacare. WORK HARDER and stop with the gimmegimmegimme bullcrap.

    Repubs are the PARENTS that want their kids (DEMOCRATS) to grow the F*** up and move out of the house already! GEEEZ!

    December 11, 2012 at 2:15 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  9. micahel weir

    this right to work stuff is all about getting rid of the unions, it is about hurting the working people and it is about the haves and have nots,

    December 11, 2012 at 2:17 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Steve S

    Without Union dues from the membership, it's almost impossible to run a Union.
    More Union busting legislation from the GOP.....corporate America's best friend.

    December 11, 2012 at 2:17 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Julia

      Poor unions. Now they can't force people to join them and pay them union dues.

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

      You can still choose to pay your dues and have the union. Difference NOW is... the people that want OUT, have that freedom NOT to pay for your union. If you CANNOT make it on TRUE membership fees, it should not exist. Let the people who want out have their freedom and stop blaming republicans for taking money away from another joke of a program. JMO

      December 11, 2012 at 2:22 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Anonymous2

    The Breaking News Headline is terrible. You still have to pay if you want to "join" a union. The law just says you don't have to "join" a union.

    December 11, 2012 at 2:17 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  12. sf

    how in the hell are the people electing these idiots into office?!!! republicans are a disgusting group...and i for one will be happy with they become nothing in our country!

    December 11, 2012 at 2:17 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • DemsClueless

      Basically what you are saying is "Why do those people who DONT WANT to be in the union get to stop paying and get to leave the union?" FREEDOM.
      Your argument has no basis and you sound like a child, truly. It's not a republican/democrat issue. You have no idea what the bill even states if you are arguing that repubs suck in this case. You are just so latched to your Obamatrain that you jump when he says jump, but fail to see there is no trickery here. Its a good idea to let people who DONT want to join your club, to get out. Get over yourself.

      December 11, 2012 at 2:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rod

      Weakening unions is a step towards socialism, because non-union members can get the benefits of unions without paying for them. Talk about lazy inept people. Just like we used to have a health care system in which people who didn't have insurance got the benefits and the rest of us had to pay for it. Look up the definition of socialism and allowing people to benefit from unions without paying for it is exactly what the goal of socialism is.

      December 11, 2012 at 2:38 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Michigander

    So there is finally hope that Michigan may recover from its long malaise....

    December 11, 2012 at 2:18 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Pete

    Since Unions only care about the workers they should be set up as non profits.

    December 11, 2012 at 2:18 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  15. sf

    for the idiot republicans on here talking about how we democrats always want handouts...that's NOT the case..we want people to be treated fairly! I for one have had enuf of not being compensated properly for the work that I provide...a union would help to get that fairness transcended down to me! i've worked since i was 13, and i'm NOT lazy as you idiots on the right believe.

    The right consists of the wealthy who use the toothless and brainless on the right to maintain their power and treat people like slaves!

    December 11, 2012 at 2:20 pm | Report abuse | Reply
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