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. muffin72

    If Michael moore is against it, it's probably a good law and should go forward

    December 11, 2012 at 12:25 pm | Report abuse |
  2. blaster34

    Why are unions so opposed to the right to choose? they sure support the right for a woman to choose what happens to her fetus? But they don't want workers choosing what they do with their wallets? Sounds hypocritical to me.

    December 11, 2012 at 12:25 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Patrick

    It simply comes down to this, do you want to make your own choice about joining a union or do you want someone else to make that choice for you? I was a Teamster for several years. At first I thought 'hey this is great!' Then when I screwed up at work, and I was the one totally at fault, I was deservingly repremanded. No big deal. Lesson learned. The Teamsters wanted to make it a big deal. I told them to back off. They don't me that the choice wasn't mine to make. I quit the union that same day. Over the course of the next month I had my car keyed and on four different occassions a tire punctured in the employee parking lot.

    Unions are made up of criminal thugs that bully everyone else to pay them money or else. I hate unions and see them as a cancer on American society.

    December 11, 2012 at 12:26 pm | Report abuse |
  4. MatarLaRaza

    !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Let it go commies... You lost this one !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    December 11, 2012 at 12:29 pm | Report abuse |
  5. WikiGirl

    Interest how hypocritical the Dems get, when it is over an issue that threatens to lighten their coffers. What about freedom of choice! Emperor Obummer wants to make sure all his Union contributors are still around to donate for the next Dem. And those teachers that ditched their classrooms – apparently no fear of job loss there. I guess they are just hoping that their union survives and will promote insurance plans to cover cosmetic plastic surgery, just like the teachers near Buffalo, NY get, courtesy of their Union.

    December 11, 2012 at 12:30 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Miller Barber

    So School Teachers showed their real colors today. The heck with kids education the union is more important.

    Now we know where our teachers stand. Stick it to them Rick!!!!!!

    December 11, 2012 at 12:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • ForsakenPoptart

      Hey, if you want your best teachers to leave their jobs in MI and take better paying positions in other states, that's fine with me. If you want teachers who are having to work a second job just to get by and can't really be bothered to give your kids a decent education, that's also fine with me. I live in a different state, and the LAST thing I want is more competiton for my kids trying to get into the best colleges. Enjoy a whole generation of burger-flippers and cashiers.

      December 11, 2012 at 1:00 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Juvenal451

    Please stop calling it "Right to Work." Years ago, the US Supreme Court established in two cases–Hudson and Beck–that no one can be compeled to join the union. The Court also established that, while the union is required to represent non-members in the same fashion as members, it is not required to do that for free. Hence "agency fee" arrangements, whereby non-members pay a fee ONLy for the core representational work of the union, not for political or ideological activity. The "right" that is supported by this kind of law is the right to sponge off of your co-workers–you know, the kind of person who eats your food from the refrigerator when no one is around.

    December 11, 2012 at 12:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Charles

      That is a stupid response – Ohhh you dont have to be a member of our precious union you just have to pay our dues to "represent" you. If the UNION is truely good then everyone would want to join it – is that not correct ? so then what are the UNIONs afraid of – Right to work does not mean that UNIONS cannot exist it just means that you can choose not to join one and as such pay them what they are worth . nothing – Soo many of UNION workers are brainwashed into thinking the UNIONS do anything useful for them – Unions did have their place in history which has since created a mass of labor laws that are now in place. The union head however love your money and live like kings while providing no real value to their members.

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

      You object that workers don't want to be forced to pay dues that end up being used for political pay offs and to pay for corrupt union officials? That is why people are fed up with being bullied into paying these dues. It is wasted money for which you have no control or say in how it is used.

      December 11, 2012 at 12:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Melissa G.

      Exactly. This has been another disgrace brought to us by the republican party. Hopefully there will be 58 people replaced in the next election...

      December 11, 2012 at 12:56 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Tyler

    Let me get this right, we here in America are opposed to shipping jobs overseas to save money and pay employees less, but are also opposed to unions who make sure Americans get a fair pay for their job. Putting one and one together tells me America supports paying American workers less to save companies money.

    A union can require dues when anyone in the position can benefit from the actions of the union. Here we are also complaining about paying for other people (entitlements), but yet when someone doesn't want to pay into something that can help them, we are all okay with it. This congitive dissonace hurts.

    December 11, 2012 at 12:34 pm | Report abuse |
  9. RC

    The Republican extremists are gradually making the entire party irrelevant in our society. Perhaps this is a good thing.

    December 11, 2012 at 12:35 pm | Report abuse |
  10. jeff

    Good for you MI its just a law to allow corporate take over anyways. Its a law against the people and for big biz I live in WI a right to work state where they allow big corporations to fire at will with no unemployment benifits the law is for a corrupt government standing up for big guys and leaving the little guys to starve

    December 11, 2012 at 12:35 pm | Report abuse |
  11. No Sympaty for Unions

    The bakers union killed Hostess. No there are no more Twinkies. Unforgivable.

    December 11, 2012 at 12:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Art

      I guess you want a perfect world. Well I have no sympathy for you.

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

    Say goodbye Republicans, you have just committed suicide in Michigan.

    December 11, 2012 at 12:36 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Richard Hickok

    The right to work bill is cleverly disguised. I live in Tennessee where we have had to work under this bill for years now, and what this bill actually is, is a bill for the employers not the employees. What this bill does is give you the right to work and more importantly, it gives employers the right to fire you for no reason at all, (You have a right to work & they have a right to fire you). Here in Tennessee I've seen this happen many times and it even happened to me. No state agency will be able to help you keep or get your job back, because these agency's will always side and uphold the employers decisions every time. Defeat this bill now if you can!

    December 11, 2012 at 12:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • upside down

      Apparently you were not a valuable employee.

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

      thank you my friend for being HONEST and TRUELY FACTUAL !!!

      December 11, 2012 at 12:57 pm | Report abuse |
  14. MatarLaRaza

    just let it go commies...

    December 11, 2012 at 12:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Zabazoom

      So you want to call hard working Americans commies? How about we show you, just what you are.

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

      Sounds like this is coming from a Fascist.

      December 11, 2012 at 12:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Art

      Fascists don't like Commies. (Sarcasm intended)

      December 11, 2012 at 12:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • amomanddad

      maybe a NATIONWIDE SHUTDOWN of ameriKA is in order . Let's CALL THEM OUT ....... the RICH will PLUNDER so fast loosing their $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ they WILL eventually come back down to earth . Our WORKING PEOPLE motto should be WE BUILT YOUR MEGA BUCKS AND WE WORKING PEOPLE CAN BREAK IT DOWN. TIME for serious REVOLUTIONARY things to begin . And MAYBE WE the WORKING PEOPLE can REBUILD OUR COUNTRY to what it ONCE was . But time is running short .

      December 11, 2012 at 12:52 pm | Report abuse |
  15. jer

    we have this law here in AZ and it has worked well. when you have an employee that is not fit for the job either because of a poor fit or just that arrogant of a person we dont have to deal with Unions, we just fire them and hire someone who wants to do the job and not complain. No union BS just straight, if you dont do your job, good bye. it is how it should be

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

      AZ is probably one of the poorest paying states, where you can be fired for looking crosseyed at your boss and the average working dude thinks he's making good money if their pay is close to minimum wage. Look, Henry Ford who hated unions

      December 11, 2012 at 12:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • accountingrocks

      That's how it should be. The unions were a good idea, but they got greedy just like everyone else and started holding organizations hostage for ridiculous demands. Unions, meet backlash.

      December 11, 2012 at 1:51 pm | Report abuse |
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