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. jason


    December 11, 2012 at 12:46 pm | Report abuse |
  2. amomanddad

    for those to KNOW ....many of the ANTI UNION POSTS you see here on cnn and other places online are from an ORGANIZED group called the mackinaw group . These TROLLERS should be REJECTED as their views are PRO BUSINESS controlled by A L E C , the KOCH brothers and OTHER DOWN with the WORKING PERSON/OUT with the middle class . They are totally CONTROLLED , MANIPULATED and told what to respond with (brainwashed if you will). It is a WORTH WHILE EFFORT for these at the top 2% to further INCREASE their mega gazzlions and pursue their OWN GREED . The republicons in this state COULD have CHOSE to do this much differently , giving MI Citizens and VOICE with discussion . These people decided to HIDE this BILL into an appropriations BILL , where it is said and done with OUT a way to ever reverse it in the future . REJECT REPUBLICANS

    December 11, 2012 at 12:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • jer

      so it's your way or the highway? you talk smack about republicans but you refuse to work with them for the better good. it is called compromise you give you get, you win some you lose some. get over yourself and your pathetic party politics

      December 11, 2012 at 12:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Charles

      You are blinded by your union reps – and I feel sorry for you. What is one of the alternatives to your forced UNION state – simple watch business leave your state and go elsewhere in the US to a right to work state or oversees – If you like your UNION then keep you membership to them – meanwhile those that see that there is no value in being a member can opt out – sounds like freedom of choice to me. Let them negotiate their own pay rates etc.. based upon their performance on the job and not the length o time they occupied a chair.

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

      @amomanddad – you are wrong about Majority rule – the US is a Republic not a Democracy – you elect officials that make decisions – The majority elects the decision makers but the majority does not rule on laws.
      I don't know what the problem is anyway with being a right to work state – It does not remove UNIONs just allow those who wish not to be members opt out them. OR – is it that you know that they will do a better job of negotiating their own pay rates and benefits than your UNIONs will since their negotiations will be based upon their work performance and not how long they have been on the "Job".

      December 11, 2012 at 1:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Average American

      You are so ignorant. The Nazi party was also good about posting propaganda. You must be a democrat.

      December 11, 2012 at 1:17 pm | Report abuse |
  3. fiftyfive55

    No unions means minimum wage,minimum wage means less taxes paid ,less taxes paid the higher the tax rate has to be.
    The higher the tax rate,the more big business complains about higher taxes,the higher the tax rate the less people have to spend,the less people have to spend,the less profits business will earn,this is how the working man gets even with big business,we just dont buy what they sell,big business joins us in the soup line and still wonders what happened,so sad.

    December 11, 2012 at 12:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Charles

      If you look at the right to work states you will see that your comments are not true. They negotiate their pay rate based upon their performance of their job. If you have skills and actually work at the job then you will likely see zero change. You can keep your precious UNION as well – Studies show that about 1/2 will dump the UNION membership if given the choice. I wonder why that is ?

      December 11, 2012 at 1:10 pm | Report abuse |
  4. SaraR

    I wonder how many of these "protesters" are from outside Michigan....sent in to help stir things up. I'm sorry, but most Unions have outlived their usefulness and are there mostly for the Fat Cats at the top.

    December 11, 2012 at 12:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • fiftyfive55

      unions have outlived their usefulness??? REALLY? You mean business started treating employees with respect,wow,this is a revelation.

      December 11, 2012 at 12:53 pm | Report abuse |
  5. max

    Unions have one goal and that is the make money!! They have nobody anygood. All the other right to work states are doing just fine and are sucessful to boot. Sign it Rick!!

    December 11, 2012 at 12:48 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Dee L

    This is not good. I live in Arizona Right to Work state it sucks. Employers abuse their employees fire them for any unjustifiable reason.That's when National Labor Board comes handy. The ones agreeing to it don't know what's coming their way.

    December 11, 2012 at 12:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Duhhh

      Let me explain something to you 'pro'Union people.. Employers pay money to hire people – job listings, HR departments, training etc.. They will not just 'fire' you because they want to have fun – it costs them money. Their goal is to take all employees and have them become efficient and produce quality products. If you do NOT have any specific skills there is no need for you to make $20/hr.. they can hire any Tom, Dick or Harry off the street to do that job for $8/hr – SIMPLE economics. Therefore, it is in your best interest to learn a skill or trade and become a VALUABLE resource, not a Union employee who demands high wages for a SKILL-LESS job. Before anyone can interject that I am a 1% – I started at a grocery store, worked for the Post Office – both of which had Unions. I REFUSED to join. I will make my money based on my skills, not on some bullying by the Union... Now I have a high quality skill that earns me VERY good money and the laws of the US protect me at my job – don't need a Union to bribe the government and bully my employer..

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

    The race to the bottom....brought to you by voters who actually believe republicans have their best interest at heart...fools.

    December 11, 2012 at 12:48 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Ted

    Just a bunch of hippie protesters.

    December 11, 2012 at 12:48 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Ted

    I hope the police turns the fire hose on those hippie union members. They need a bath anyway.

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

      Gov Snyder paid Ted $100 to post this.

      December 11, 2012 at 12:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • ForsakenPoptart

      Yeah, those hard-working hippies! How dare they stand against corporate take-over in their state! Hit them with the hose!

      December 11, 2012 at 1:08 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Bruce

    I live in Michigan. I hate unions. They protect the lazy and that is it. If you work hard (like our forefathers did) an employer is not going to get rid of you. And by the way, almost every state hires employees under the "at will" system meaning they can fire you when they want but you can also quit when you want. That's the way it should be. Work hard and you won't be fired–simple as that!

    December 11, 2012 at 12:51 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Art

    Too many Union hating rabble-rousers on this post.

    December 11, 2012 at 12:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Josh

      I was a Teamster for 2years when I worked for UPS in NC. But it was MY CHOICE that I joined. Don't force people to do it if they don't want to.

      December 11, 2012 at 1:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Josh

      I was a Teamster for 2years when I worked for UPS. But it was my choice to join it and I did. Don't force people to join if they don't want to.

      December 11, 2012 at 1:03 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Big Carl

    As a ex-union organizer for Railroad unions the UTU and BLE across the country. I can say as a fact that the bosses in Cleavland and Milwaukee of the unions just want the money flowing in to the coffers. The right to work is a tare in the web of a way they have ran things for over 100 years. The pay and benefits of all most all the railroads we organized was comparable and in some cases better then package we brought to the table. Yes the money flows to the politicians at large amounts to get what we want to force Co. to bend and bargain with us. But when the day came that myself needed the union's help in a wrongful death suit brought on me as a train engineer when a man made me his executioner by stepping out in front of my train. The union I helped for 14 years told me that it was up to me to pay for my legal team and that they in no way get involved to help me. So I know work on a short line with no organized work force making the same money as the boys on CSX and a profit sharing package at that. I preach non-union to the new kids and tell them many story's about the things the national as forced down the unions throat. How the bosses screw the new hires out of rights and pay to line there own pockets. Llet one person say I'm not telling the truth under this and you'll see a union boss there. Way to go Michigan for the regular Joe who whats to work and not get strong armed !!

    December 11, 2012 at 12:53 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Mark from Louisiana

    I wonder if those UAW workers that Fox News filmed getting stoned and drunk on their lunch breaks at Chrysler are at the Capitol hollering about their right to work lolololol

    December 11, 2012 at 12:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Average American

      You mean the ones that the Union forced GM to rehire a few days ago?

      December 11, 2012 at 1:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • CaesarXIII

      When your crappy made GM car falls apart, you'll know why. That's why I bought a Ford. A real American company that knows how to stay in business without asking for a hand out.

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

      Could say the same about the secret service and they're definitely not UAW!

      December 11, 2012 at 1:03 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Stan Sitwell

    I don't understand why so many people on this message board feel so against being forced to pay into a union because it is "unamerican" when they are so OK with being forced to pay for healthcare by buying insurance. Isn't that the same thing? Don't make me pay for a service unless I choose to use it.

    December 11, 2012 at 12:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Josh

      I am not opposed to paying for a union. But let it be MY choice. If I don't want to pay then I won't pay, if I want to then I will. Even in Health Insurance you have a choice in what you want and who you want.

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

      Stan, I know why you don't understand the difference.

      December 11, 2012 at 1:10 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Average American

    I understand why the Unions don't like it...primarily because they can't force people to pay them dues. But why are the union workers upset? Right to Work only means that workers, if they choose not to, are not forced to join.

    Fire the teachers! Fire the goons!

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

      You are so right. Look at what happened in Wisconsin. Once they passed that law Union membership fell by almost half. Once people wasn't forced to pay they didn't.

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