U.S. Rep. John Dingell: Republicans have 'kicked open a hornet's nest' by passing right-to-work
J. Scott Park | MLive.com
- Follow action at the Capitol today on a live blog at MLive.com.
- Read an article about the protesters who descended on the Capitol.
U.S. Rep. John Dingell voiced strong opposition to passage of right-to-work legislation by the Michigan House on Tuesday, urging Gov. Rick Snyder to veto it when it comes to his desk.
"There is no need or reason for this legislation," Dingell said shortly after the 58-51 vote on House Bill 4003. "By forcing this issue through the Legislature, Republicans in the state House and Senate have kicked open a hornet's nest that could have been avoided altogether."
The House voted 58-51 to pass the right-to-work bill for public employees, and 58-52 on another bill for private sector workers as thousands of protesters rallied around the state Capitol. Snyder has indicated he will sign the legislation into law.
Ryan J. Stanton | AnnArbor.com
Olson expressed regret that protesters in Lansing tore down a tent owned by Americans for Prosperity, a conservative group that advocates for right-to-work laws. He said protesters used knives to slash it apart with members of AFP still inside.
"Unfortunately there have been some people hurt outside," Olson said. "I've heard a couple of people have gotten maced."
Olson spoke on the House floor on Tuesday in favor of right-to-work. It was only the second time in his two years in the Legislature that he's decided to speak on the floor.
While right-to-work legislation weakens the power of unions, Olson said that's not what his vote was about. He said it's about giving workers the freedom to choose whether to pay union dues.
"I voted for it primarily on the basis of supporting our constitutional right of freedom of assembly," he said. "I believe people should be free to join or not join something if they choose."
State Rep. Jeff Irwin, D-Ann Arbor, offered harsh criticisms of his Republican colleagues on his Facebook page, saying they rammed through the legislation without a single committee meeting and attached a spending provision to the legislation to make it referendum-proof.
"When the House passed HB 4003, the Republicans and their clerk, Gary Randall, illegally refused to hear our motion for reconsideration," Irwin wrote in a post, claiming the GOP ignored House rules. "This is all part of a pattern of lousy and lazy parliamentary process in the Michigan House."
Irwin concluded, "This is a sad day in Lansing."
Olson criticized Democrats for making an issue of the procedure. He said the motion to reconsider the vote was made after the bill already was ruled enrolled and sent to the governor, and the House leadership's decision not to reconsider the vote was upheld by a roll call vote.
"Once the bill leaves the floor, a motion to reconsider is no longer appropriate," Olson said. "That's the sequence of events that happened and that was the ruling. Was it enrolled and sent to the governor quickly? Yeah. But the rules were applied."
Dingell, D-Dearborn, said Michigan's industrial heritage is defined by the labor movement, and Republican and Democratic state lawmakers alike have worked to safeguard it in the past.
"All this right-to-work bill does is cut the legs out from under middle-class Michigan families and bring on further needless political conflict," he said. "I urge Governor Snyder to be reasonable, uphold the sensible legacies of former Republican Governors George Romney and Bill Milliken, and veto what the Michigan Legislature has sent him.”
State police dressed in riot gear gathered outside the state Capitol on Tuesday while an estimated 10,000 demonstrators rallied in protest. Michigan State Police Capt. Harold Love told MLive.com a trooper pepper sprayed someone after another trooper began to get pulled into the crowd.
The crowd extended a full city block down Michigan Avenue, where the Rev. Jesse Jackson, Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero and Sen. Gretchen Whitmer spoke outside of Lansing City Hall.
A group of labor supporters spent Monday night singing Christmas carols outside Snyder's gated community near Ann Arbor in hopes that he would reverse his stance on right-to-work, which makes it illegal to require financial support of a union as a condition of employment.
The bills working their way through the Legislature cover all public and private workers except police and firefighters.
Snyder and Republican leaders argue workers should have a choice whether to financially support a union. Democrats and labor supporters call it a heavy-handed attack on unions and argue it deprives unions the ability to fairly collect dues from those who benefit from the bargaining process.
While Snyder has been criticized for supporting right-to-work after saying for the last couple of years that it wasn't on his agenda, he did tell Michigan Business Review in May 2009 when he was exploring a run for governor that he would support a movement to make Michigan a right-to-work state.
"I think it would be helpful if Michigan was right-to-work, but primarily from a marketing perspective. I think it would show the rest of the country that we're open for business," he said at the time, adding, "I'm not an anti-union person, though. I would rather have the unions be part of it."
Ryan J. Stanton covers government and politics for AnnArbor.com. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 734-623-2529. You also can follow him on Twitter or subscribe to AnnArbor.com's email newsletters.