Unions fighting an attack on their rights in Michigan, USA have been supported by President Barak Obama, who has issued a statement against the proposed “right-to-work” legislation being pushed through by right wing Govenor Rick Snyder.
Right wing politicians are backed by Americans For Prosperity — a hard right group developed and funded by anti-Obama industrialists and billionaire campaign donors Charles and David Koch (owners of Georgia Pacific, who funded Tea Party Rally’s and Mitt Romney’s losing presidential campaign). AFP recruited right wing conservatives to show up at the state Capitol in Lansing to counter union protests.
However, White House spokesperson Matt Lehrich said:“President Obama has long opposed so-called ‘right to work’ laws and he continues to oppose them now,”
“The President believes our economy is stronger when workers get good wages and good benefits, and he opposes attempts to roll back their rights. Michigan – and its workers’ role in the revival of the US automobile industry – is a prime example of how unions have helped build a strong middle class and a strong American economy.”
This isn’t the first time the president has had to weigh into the state politics surrounding collective bargaining and labor law.
He also spoke out against efforts by right wing Governor Scott Walker to take away collective bargaining rights in Wisconsin.
The statement is a welcome sign for labour activists, who are trying to turn national attention on to what’s happening in Michigan.
Michigan’s Governor Synder and top legislative leaders declared their joint support last week for ‘right-to-work’ legislation that would ban contracts requiring all employees to pay union subscriptions. Bills have been introduced in the Michigan Senate and House with supporters predicting swift passage in a’ lame-duck legislative’ session by the end of the year. The Republican’s have a majority in both chambers.
Hundreds of opponents gathered at the state Capitol in Lansing in protest.
It was expected to be the beginning of a fierce fight between unions and business interests over the future of union rights in the birthplace of the powerful United Auto Workers union.
Joining the fight the United Steelworkers International President Leo W. Gerard said: “This move, coming only a month after the Election, is an obvious attempt by a lame-duck legislature to ram through an unpopular and unnecessary piece of garbage at the last minute. Voters sent a clear message on Nov. 6 that they want politicians to stand up for American workers and find solutions that will create good jobs and put working families ahead of corporate right-wing interests.
“It seems the Republican leadership in Michigan did not get that message. Instead of listening to the people of Michigan, they’re wasting their time with a bill that would do the opposite. Laws like this bring lower wages, slashed benefits, disappearing pensions and unsafe workplaces. They silence the voices of people who work for a living. Calling this bill ‘Right-To-Work’ is a lie. The only rights it will provide are the rights of millionaires and billionaires to do whatever they want to working people. This is wrong for Michigan and wrong for hard-working people across the United States.”
Mike Bolton USW District 2 (Michigan & Wisconsin) Director added:
“The people of Michigan have a proud history of standing up for the rights of workers. It’s that history that helped build the middle class in this country. By passing this bill, the cowards in the Republican leadership in Michigan are turning their back on that legacy and telling the people of Michigan that corporate, right-wing interests are more important than the hard-working families of this state. It’s a shameful, disgraceful move by leaders who are clearly out of step with the will of the people.”
Also read more on this by the TUCs Owen Tudor at Stronger Unions.