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 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 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. Joe

    Union dues are simply laundered dollars that get funneled back to the Democratic Party

    December 11, 2012 at 11:42 am | Report abuse |
    • JR


      December 11, 2012 at 11:45 am | Report abuse |
    • Shari Del Mariani

      Nobody is forced to work at a union company. Don't like unions, go to work where there isn't one. Ask WalMart workers how well their quality of life is without union representation.

      December 11, 2012 at 11:50 am | Report abuse |
  2. William

    In the public schools in Detroit, Mich., according to the U.S. Department of Education, only 7 percent of the eighth graders are grade-level proficient or better in reading. Inner city schools get much more money than schools out in the country. They are also better paid and have better benefits and retirement packages. Racism and social justice have nothing to do with the miserable failure our schools are experiencing. Sleep with a student? Union makes sure you are transferred. Get caught cheating on test scores? It takes years to fire them.

    December 11, 2012 at 11:42 am | Report abuse |
    • tommyrock80

      Totally agree. The teachers are totally to blame for everything. They are overpaid socialist, Obamabots who are a cancer on society with that learning agenda thingy they have. Good riddance. I hope they all fall off a cliff. Education. Who needs it?

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

    I was just wondering who died and left the unions and Obambam to tell me that I have to join a union or pay union dues to work? Many states have RTW laws and it should be up to the individual to determine an association. If you are a good, hard worker, you don't need a union to represent you. And most employers are smart enough to offer good wages and benefits to their employees so that their business does not go to the unions. UNIONS ARE EVIL!

    December 11, 2012 at 11:43 am | Report abuse |
  4. Michigan the great unemployed state

    The union screams protect our brothers. But they are unemployed because new factories go south to stay away from the union. Look at the number of union workers today compared with 15 – 20 years ago. The union is destroying themselves with their greedy demands. They force you to pay dues that is given to a certain political party whether want that or not They don't want choice, they want everything their way.

    December 11, 2012 at 11:48 am | Report abuse |
    • Tim

      Unions are just O. C.

      December 11, 2012 at 11:55 am | Report abuse |
  5. Stormlighter

    For those of you who think that unions aren't necessary, think on this....would you give the President all the power?? (Party affiliation is irrevelent) Would you give Congress all the power? Of course not. It's about checks and balances, folks. Unions were formed to keep businesses from abusing their workforce, which they have for almost 100 years. Is it perfect?? Of course not, nothing is, but it's better than the alternative: Letting big corporations have their way with workers. What American worker hasn't had a grievience?? Those without a union, have had to just accept whatever the boss said, period!! At least with a union, you have some form of recourse. Think it through people ..think it through before you say that unions are the "scourage" of the US. This country was BUILT on the backs of manufacturing workers for over 100 years. If it wasn't for those people...including people like'd have NO middle class.

    December 11, 2012 at 11:52 am | Report abuse |
    • Marni

      That's the problem, Stormlighter, you're asking people to think. BTW, well said!

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

      And where have all of the manufacturing jobs gone? We need to bring manufacturing back to the U.S.

      December 11, 2012 at 1:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • tommyrock80

      I neither the time nor intelligence to read all that you wrote stormlighter, but I disagree with it. If you have to work at WalMart and be on welfare then that is your problem. If you are a teacher, you should be lucky to earn what little you do and consider what you could have done better with your life. If you are a CEO, you are my hero!!

      December 11, 2012 at 2:16 pm | Report abuse |
  6. jw

    MI.....the new freeloader state

    December 11, 2012 at 11:54 am | Report abuse |
    • liberalsAreFools

      Anyone that has been to Detroit in the last 20 years knows why this law was passed. Unions have destroyed that state. This gives the state to actually become productive again, and quit being the joke of the nation.

      Unions are not bad, but nobody should be forced to join them.

      Liberals are always bad, they are an evil force that is destroying this nation.

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


    December 11, 2012 at 11:55 am | Report abuse |
  8. Stormlighter

    For those of you who think that unions aren't necessary, think on this....would you give the President all the power?? (Party affiliation is irrevelent) Would you give Congress all the power? Of course not. It's about checks and balances, folks. Unions were formed to keep businesses from abusing their workforce, which they have for almost 100 years. Is it perfect?? Of course not, nothing is, but it's better than the alternative: Letting big corporations have their way with workers. What American worker hasn't had a grievience?? Those without a union, have had to just accept whatever the boss said, period!! At least with a union, you have some form of recourse. Think it through people ..think it through before you say that unions are the "scourage" of the US. This country was BUILT on the backs of manufacturing workers for over 100 years. If it wasn't for those people...including people like'd have NO middle class. NO TO RIGHT TO WORK!!!!!!

    December 11, 2012 at 11:56 am | Report abuse |
  9. Law Dig

    The RI-C-O laws were passed for a reason. Uni-on th-u-g-z.

    December 11, 2012 at 11:56 am | Report abuse |
    • tommyrock80

      No outrage at the Wall St. Thgz or the CEO thgz, huh? They ruined the economy to the tune of $2 trillion! Something your union thgz couldn't logistically do.

      December 11, 2012 at 2:18 pm | Report abuse |
  10. SpencerRifle

    The international association of machinist's union tried to get their foot in the door where I work (in Florida, a right to work state) a few years ago & they got voted down by 3 to 1. They were promising people huge pay raises & benefits if they voted "yes". They never could say exactly how those pay raises & benefits would be paid for, but they were sure eager to get their hand into my wallet. I'm glad they killed their attempt to get in here. We make a good wage with good benefits as it is where I work without any union, so why get greedy and kill the golden goose?

    December 11, 2012 at 11:57 am | Report abuse |
  11. Jeremy

    In response to Judith, yeah – that's just the way it is. Work for a company that compensates or don't. Just because they get a huge piece of pie and you don't just means it's a poorly managed company. Other than that, I agree with everyone else. I love what ChicagoRealist said, it's a legal mafia and the unions are driving businesses overseas.

    December 11, 2012 at 11:57 am | Report abuse |
  12. Ken Meyer

    In reference to Jennifer Granholm's "Tweet".

    Yeah, your experience as governor of the State of Michigan should inspire all of us in terms of your expertise in that area, shouldn't it? Unfortunately, the past activity of politicians like you are a big part of the reason that "RTW" legislation is so desperately needed in the state of Michigan. The state's economy simply can't exist forever on the basis of being subsidized.

    December 11, 2012 at 11:59 am | Report abuse |
  13. nikkapernicus

    1)Creating you own business requires employees, therefore not everyone will have their own business. I will never create my own automobile company. Free enterprise is not on the line here. That is ridiculous.
    2) If you don't want to join a union, don't join one. Nobody is being forced to do anything. END OF STORY.
    3) You are either Married or not, pregnant or not, or in a UNION or NOT. I work very hard for the wage I earn and the representation I receive.
    4)"mafia" that is absurd. The working man has a voice when in a union. The non-union working man is vulnerable to being short changed by the employer.

    As a union member I do not have my hand out. I work very hard for my ability to go to the doctor and one day receive a pension. The non-union worker is often shorted the hours needed to receive benefits forcing him to put his hand out. As a nonunion worker I had to work 3-4 jobs to make ends meet, and had no health ins. and nothing invested in my future.

    December 11, 2012 at 11:59 am | Report abuse |
  14. phil

    It is interesting. Dems don't want right to work states. They believe it's not fair for union workers to be able to not pay dues but to get the benefits of the union. Hmmmm...but Dems are all for a progressive income tax that allows for 48% of americans to not pay any income tax but to get the benefits paid by the 52%. How can you be for one but not the other. I think the answer is that a portion of Union dues collected go to support democrats for re-election. Less dues means less support for these democrats. So the issue is more of knowing who is buttering your bread and has nothing to do with supporting union workers.

    December 11, 2012 at 12:02 pm | Report abuse |
  15. PoleCat

    It all comes down to more money for the corporate coffers , and less money for the workers. A typical Republican ideal.

    December 11, 2012 at 12:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • tommyrock80

      Shhhhh. Let's not get truthy.

      December 11, 2012 at 2:19 pm | Report abuse |
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