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Michigan Democrats stepped up their efforts today to stop Republican attacks on labor that bear striking similarities to the recent events in Wisconsin that stripped workers of their fundamental rights to organize and collectively bargain.  

Under the guise of "balancing the budget", newly elected Republican Governor Rick Snyder and the Republican majority in the legislature have pushed through a series of bills that would allow fairly negotiated contracts to be broken, prohibit communities from using project labor agreements that guarantee local employment on construction projects, and given an already struggling workforce new reasons to be worried about how they will be able to make ends meet.

One particular piece of legislation is not only being viewed as an attack on labor, however, but as a fundamental attack on the rights of voters to choose their leaders. The legislation would create "Emergency Financial Managers," unelected appointees of the Governor that would be sent into a struggling local community or school district, force that local governmental unit to pay them an uncapped salary for an undefined period of time, and have the power to overrule elected officials, dissolve any contracts that government has entered into with employees or contractors, and even go so far as to remove elected officials from office.  There are not only no clear triggers that would determine when and how these "managers" could be sent into communities, but there is no ability for voters within that community to have a voice in the decisions these managers are making.

Thankfully, it seems that Democrats in the State Senate are not going down without a fight.

A rally was held today at the State Capitol in Lansing in which an estimated 5,000 protesters joined together in opposition to these anti-labor, anti-democracy efforts by Republicans, and Senate Democratic Leader Gretchen Whitmer showed up with a strong message of support.

She announced that she would be introducing an amendment to Michigan's constitution that would guarantee the right of any worker to organize and collectively bargain for their wages and benefits.  As she pointed out (watch the video), this is about showing Michigan's workers where their leaders truly stand.

“This amendment would secure in Michigan’s Constitution the basic right for every individual to have a seat at the negotiating table. [Republicans] say we’re not Wisconsin, well then let’s prove it.”

Whitmer pointed out the hypocrisy of the Republican leadership continuing to tell working families that they support their right to collectively bargain while introducing and passing legislation that strips those rights away from them one piece at a time.  She said if Governor Snyder truly does support those rights, then he should have no problem supporting those rights being protected in the constitution.  If he doesn't, then it's time to at least be honest with voters about it.

"It’s time that politicians stop telling our working families what they want to hear, then pass bills that weaken their rights and threaten the wages and benefits of men and women who actually work for a living."

Whitmer may not have the numbers she would need in the Senate to stop the Republican efforts, not to mention pass her constitutional amendment, but it certainly appears that she's not going to let them get away with their assault on the rights of the state's workforce without a pretty loud fight.  

She had 5,000 people outside of the Capitol today ready to support her, and she'll need them to be just as loud and just as vocal as they travel back to their homes throughout Michigan and share the message they heard about the need to stop Michigan from becoming the next Wisconsin.

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Comment Preferences

    •  There is no way in hell (0+ / 0-)

      I would support anybody opening up the constitution in this state.   We voted that referendum down just to make sure that the Republicans couldn't do as they pleased with the people of this state.

      Now, if you say they can pass an amendment without opening it up - I'll listen.  However, I have about as much faith in Michigan state Democrats as I do Obama's crowd.   LaBlanc (D) just passed an invasive, punitive, over-reaching, big government bill to restrict the driving of 17 year olds in MI because it gave him an opportunity to proclaim how much he loves mom, the flag, and Traverse City cherry pie.    Under this bill, four 17 year olds could go out for pizza and a matinee on a Sunday because there are more than two in the car.    They also can't drive between 10 PM and 5 am, so if they have a 10 pm hockey practice, they can't take themselves.   Michigan Democrats are as ineffective and weak as the Democrats in Washington.   And while we're at it, why do they keep Mark Brewer as party chair?

      If you don't stand for something, eventually you stand for nothing. [Fire Rick Snyder http://firericksnyder.org/]

      by dkmich on Thu Mar 17, 2011 at 03:04:28 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  What a smart way to put the onus on this (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ParkRanger, dreamghost

    particularly power hungry governor who seems to be trying to outdo Scott Walker in imposing the demolition of unions as well as decapitating the power of locally elected leaders in their local communities.  This proposal sets the ball on the tee and hands the club to the Governor and points out the pin flag.  It will be quite difficult to explain opposing this basic collective bargaining right since they've been trying to mislead people on their real attitudes toward teacher unions, and other public sector unions.

    These sort of legislative and executive power grams seem to be something which might qualify as a RICO case and violating the federal requirement that states maintain a democratic republic.

    When life gives you wingnuts, make wingnut butter!

    by antirove on Wed Mar 16, 2011 at 07:40:31 PM PDT

    •  I just watched the news coverage (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      dreamghost

      about the police forcing the protesters out of the capital building.  Most realized that the police were willing to use force and left peacefully (but noisily).  A few sat down and insisted they had the right to assemble and that this was their house. They were arrested and dragged to a police van to be arraigned. Those who were outside and witnessed the unnessesary force, tried to block the van and were wrestled to the street by the cops and also arrested.  Evidently the police in Michigan are not as supportive of the unions or as respectful of the protesters as those police in Wisconsin.  Shame, Shame, Shame!

      "Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I'm not sure about the universe." A. Einstein

      by moose67 on Wed Mar 16, 2011 at 08:09:15 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Unfortunately, (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        moose67

        11 or so people enacting some civil disobedience is a lot more manageable for law enforcement than trying to force thousands to leave a building, as in the case of Madison.

        For the past several weeks, slick rick has been putting out these little sound bites about how 'we're not Wisconsin' and how he wants to 'work with unions at the bargaining table,' etc.  The pathetic thing is, what comes out of his mouth that's intended to placate citizens is the exact opposite of the direct assaults on workers being rammed through the legislature by his teapublican cronies.  Slick rick thought that Michigan citizens would be too stupid to notice what's going on behind the curtain of the legislature and would continue to swallow his "happy talk" just like they did prior to the election.  He was wrong.

        And it's bitterly ironic that his ads to get his message out to the public via TV are exploiting the very children whose public education is going to be defunded to the tune of $700 a student.

        Shame?  Michigan's governor and teapublican legislators have NONE.

        One person can make a difference--and everyone should try. --John F. Kennedy

        by GypsyT on Thu Mar 17, 2011 at 02:39:53 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Unfortunately there's nothing (0+ / 0-)

    we can do. Republicans control all branches of the government. Governor, House, Senate, AG, SOS, and the Supreme Court.

    They control the upcoming redistricting of congressional seats. The current Republican gerrymander in this state will only get worse.

    They will pass their legislation. It will not be struck down. That's reality.

    This is the result of people staying home instead of voting. This is what happens when we allow far-right teabagger Republicans to get elected.

    "A lie is not the other side of a story; it's just a lie."

    by happy camper on Thu Mar 17, 2011 at 08:10:18 PM PDT

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