Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder
two anti-union, anti-worker, wage-lowering bills into law yesterday, but unions aren't giving up the fight. First come the lawsuits
Two lawsuits have been filed claiming the Open Meetings Act was violated when the Michigan State Police temporarily put the Capitol on lockdown during Thursday's legislative debate. One of the lawsuits was filed by the Michigan Education Association, which also won an emergency injunction to order the Capitol reopened.
A hearing has not been scheduled in the case, attorney Art Przybylowicz said.
"We're waiting for the court to strike down all the actions that took place while the building was shut down." Przybylowicz said, noting both chambers took actions on the bills during the lockdown.
Failing that, there's the ballot. Republicans attached a $1 million appropriation to each of the bills; appropriations aren't subject to referendum votes, so that move was intended to prevent Michigan voters from weighing in directly on the law. But:
Democratic Rep. Tim Greimel of Auburn Hills, the minority leader-elect of the House, said that citizens could still overturn the measure, not by referendum, but by passing a voter-initiated law, which would require collecting more than 258,000 valid signatures to get on the ballot.
That is a heavy lift, but over the past two years, overturning laws has worked out better than recalling elected officials, so it's probably preferable to recalls.
Then there's 2014. Snyder refers to himself as "one tough nerd," and over the past week, union members have taken to calling him "one-term nerd." By signing a law that he had previously called divisive, Snyder departed from his pose of being more moderate and reasonable than many of his fellow class of 2010 Republican governors, like Ohio's John Kasich or Wisconsin's Scott Walker, and from now on will have to fight on the same openly far-right turf as them. Unions will fiercely contest those races across the Midwest:
"We consider 2014 to be absolutely crucial," said AFL-CIO political director Michael Podhorzer, pointing to Snyder’s anti-union push as a case in point: "These are politicians who aren’t even listening to the results of the election. They have an agenda to not just destroy unions, but many of them go after immigrants. All of them go after voting rights. And giving them another four-year term is going to be horrific for the workers and citizens in those states."
The only upside to fighting to overturn bad laws like Ohio's anti-collective bargaining SB 5 and now Michigan's freeloader law is that unions mobilize their own members and build relationships with other voters. But we need to look to a place or a time when that energy, that mobilization, can be turned toward expanding worker power, not fighting Republican efforts to roll it back.
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