Rick Snyder and the rest of the MI GOP might not have bargained for the reaction their high-handed, deceitful, and anti-democratic behavior has generated. But all early indicators show that this will be a major gathering on Tuesday, 12/11, at the MI Capitol, in protest against the plans to ramrod through anti-union legislation for the governor's signature.
Only three days after the first challenge was made, last Thursday the 6th, thousands of people across Michigan (and across the country) are mobilizing. I attended one of the preparatory meetings yesterday--a standing-room-only event at the UAW Local 600 building in Dearborn.
I feel comfortable sharing my impressions of the event along with some brief personal reflections. Below the Kos symbol of arms joined in solidarity, I also have a few decent resources to share for relatively current information about emerging developments.
The group was very diverse in terms of age, gender, race, and union affiliation. People wore IDs or clothing indicating their affiliation with the UAW, the Teamsters, Michigan Nurses Association, AFSCME, AFT and MEA, the IBEW, the Union of Steelworkers, and SEIU (along with others, I'm sure). It was a serious-minded crowd whose collective determination to fight back was obvious and steady.
The facilitator for the training was a middle-aged, probably white woman named Lisa who apparently has been doing this kind of organizing for many years. Her demeanor was calm yet forceful; she had a lot to say, and she said it quickly without ornamentation. Lisa had a lot to walk us through, with the help of some UAW and other union activists, and by all indications the union leadership has thought through the implications of this potentially huge demonstration on Tuesday. Karla Swift, the president of the MI AFL-CIO, and Steve Tyree, a union activist whose affiliation I did not catch, each spoke briefly about the historical and practical significance of our taking a strong stance now.
I particularly appreciated Lisa's exhortations to us about taking the high road, since it will undoubtedly be part of our opponents' strategy to provoke us into angry and impulsive responses. She repeated several times the importance of recognizing our opponents as being human, vulnerable to the same pressures we are, and potentially open to change. She also asked us to keep in mind that in many cases the police officers we encounter will have considerable sympathy with our position, even if their role prevents them from behaving that way. (I did see some online conversation to that effect but at the moment I have lost track of it, sorry.)
Lisa made one other memorable comment I'd like to share with you in paraphrase: a definition of four kinds of power. Power over is the one that we are likely to know (and resent) the most, the exercise of control and domination by one individual or group over another. Power with is one of the aspects of power we'll be demonstrating on Tuesday, as well as afterwards, namely the effectiveness of collective action. Power within is the personal resource of strength and clarity we all have, though we may not be encouraged to exercise it; it is our birthright to claim. Power under is the attitude that a domineering government or agency wants us to adopt, since we are much easier to oppress if we accept the premise that we deserve it.
I'll be mulling over these distinctions for a while, appreciating the clarity with which she said them, only imperfectly captured by me here.
I was pleased to see several people I knew at the event, some of whom I had not seen for several years--one for at least twenty. It was deeply encouraging and inspiring to see so much commitment to encouraging the MI legislature and governor to change their minds and do the right thing by the people of Michigan. I left the meeting hopeful of our chances to accomplish our goals, preferably sooner but if necessary later. We are part of a global movement for justice, after all, and as one of the chants asserted, "The people united shall never be divided."
Please join me below for a short list of useful resources for current information.
For general information, see Working Michigan (sponsored by a coalition of major labor, community, faith and progressive groups from around the state). On the site's home page, there is coverage of some of the events around the state that took place today.
See on the same site a page for upcoming events--including some of those planned for tomorrow in preparation for Tuesday. This page is also starting to list important information for Tuesday, such as suggested places to park for a fee, locations for free lots with shuttles, and bus coordination.
[Speaking of Monday events, ShoshannaD asked me to publicize this one:
Rally Monday December 10 at 7:00 pm to protest RTW laws at Bethany Baptist Church 15122 W. Chicago Blvd., Detroit. Free bus ride to protest RTW in Lansing on Tuesday. Please go to Rainbow Push Detroit FB page for details.Working Michigan also has two important FB pages: their main one, "Working Michigan" (surprise!), and the other for the public event, "Day of Action at Michigan State Capitol Building."
For those without a FB page, please contact DaVonne Darby at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
The "Day of Action" site has had a lot of troll involvement, but there is also some good, practical information provided, like this fine comment by Michael Huerta:
some tips if you will be there on Tuesday: bring thick well padded gloves (not for the cold outside but for the protection they offer your hands while clapping the rail), bring a bottle or 2 of water, bring throat lozenges, your phone charger, if you are going to go inside the capital dress in layers (it gets hot when your screaming for 12 straight hours!), bring granola bars or some food with you that wont spoil if we are there for a while, dont be confrontational with the police (they are union brothers and sisters and trust me, they know they are next!), bring a means to document what you see for all those unable to attend (you will be their eyes and ears), thank the people that travelled long distances to be there, talk with the people around you (you will be amazed by the great stories that are there with you!) and finally remember what you see! we are the carriers of the torch and there may come a day when people look back on 12-11-12 as historic.The blog sponsored by the Teamsters has posters who are all over this event and related developments. Recent posts include coverage of today's actions and a report on the Koch brothers' and the DeVos family's anti-democratic intervention into this legislative campaign. Well worth bookmarking as the days progress. (I've linked to a post about Saturday's training which has a photo I'm in, though you can't see my face:)
The most succinct local editorial response I've seen to date comes from Susan J. Demas, a columnist at MLive.com who calls Snyder's actions this week a betrayal. Unfortunately, the responses to her column are on the trollish side, so it might be a good idea for our side to speak up there.
John Nichols of the Nation has a brief report on current developments, and undoubtedly he will keep them coming.
For deep background on so-called "Right to Work" laws and their implications, this Mother Jones article by Nicole Pasulka from March 2012 seems unpleasantly prescient.
Stude Dude has a recent diary to provide info for people who can't attend Tuesday's rally and march but want to help:
I'm trying to compile a one-stop list of links to help out Labor in Michigan over the next few rocky days. I'd like some that would be useful for people like me who would like to help but can't be there in person.The diary includes links to recent DKos diaries on the issue, one by MI Sen. Gretchen Whitmer, the Senate Democratic leader, on how to join her effort to transform the state's political landscape, and two by Eclectablog, one of which promotes the "Wear RED on Monday" campaign in solidarity with MI workers.
For that matter, though Eclectablog usually reposts his material here at DKos, his efforts to stay on top of all the MI legislative developments are worth recognizing. His own blog can be found here.
This is what I have to share for now. Please feel free to add more in the comments. I'll update the list of resources as I can, though the Working Michigan site and the Teamsters blog look like they'll provide really good, close to real-time coverage.