The reaction of the business lobby to a decision by a coalition of unions to launch a petition drive to place a constitutional amendment on the November ballot that would protect collective bargaining and ban right to work for less (RTWFL) laws continues to be stunning.
As was pointed out on this blog, all that is being done is protecting what men and women fought and risked life and limb to win the right to collective bargain when GM first recognized the UAW as the bargaining unit for the workers. It is not asking for anything special, different or new; just to protect a hard fought and won right that already exists.
Veteran Capitol Correspondent Tim Skubick reports that Rich Studley who runs the leading Republican lobby in the state, also known as the Michigan Chamber of Commerce, thinks labor should reconsider the petition-drive warning, “We’ll fight fire with fire.”
He is, of course, ignoring the constant drip and chipping away at collective bargaining in this state that began on January 4, 2011 when the current crop of extremist Republicans in the Legislature was sworn in. To date, 80 anti-union bills are pending or have been passed. The only one that has not has been dropped yet is an actual right to work for less bill, and two extremist Republicans are set to do this at any time.
This group of extremist Republicans have been smarter than Republican Governors and Lawmakers in Ohio and Wisconsin, who went for it all swinging for the fences, and they saw a huge backlash that defeated their efforts. Instead, in Michigan they are taking little baby steps and going for just base hits, like House Bill 4929 that would bar school districts – and school districts alone – from implementing automatic payroll deductions for teachers to pay their union dues that was passed last week. The goal is the same for all three states; they are just going to starve unions financially out of existence.
If Studley wanted labor to back off, perhaps he should have told his employees in the Legislature not to pass HB 4929 the day after the petition drive was announced after the bill sat in Committee for six months.
If there was any doubt that this Governor and the House and Senate leadership are anti-worker, they proved that last week when they violated the Michigan Constitution to pass a bill last that would ban university graduate student research assistants (GSRE) from unionizing. The Governor made his position clear on Tuesday when he signed the bill into law a mere 90 minutes before the Michigan Employment Relations Commission (MERC) was scheduled to meet to discuss unionizing graduate research assistants at the University of Michigan. Just one more case of changing the rules in case you might get an outcome you don’t like.
I was a little surprised to read the tweet from Greg McNeilly, the former Michigan Republican Party Executive Director, that alerted me to the Skubick column, and McNeilly tweeted:
“MI Chamber ready to fight retarded job-killing union thugs.”
That’s not surprising from the guy who called Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer a “government hooker,” but I have two questions for McNeilly. How are teachers, janitors and auto workers “thugs” for wanting a decent wage, benefits, due process and decent working conditions?
My second question is when are you going to apologize to Sarah Palin for that “slur on all God’s children with cognitive and developmental disabilities?” You will recall that the half-term Governor of Alaska and failed VP candidate took to Facebook in 2010 to demand President Obama fire then Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel for using that same word.
Emanuel did apologize, but McNeilly needs to apologize twice.