Protesters rally at the Capitol in Lansing, Mich. (Paul Sancya / Associated Press / December 11, 2012)
It’s Wisconsin all over again -- this time in Lansing, Mich., where thousands of protesters are descending on the state capital in a day of action to demonstrate against a "right-to-work" law that may be signed into law this week. They're outside -- in the snow -- and inside the Capitol, as legislators cast final votes on the bill, which could be signed by Gov. Rick Snyder as early as noon.
The legislation, which would prohibit unions from requiring people to join them in order to be employed, was rushed through the Legislature in a lame-duck session last week. Its rapid movement and the lack of public input into the process have drawn union protests from across the state; on Monday, Michigan’s Democratic congressional delegation met with Snyder to ask him to veto the law, or encourage more public input.
“This is being done politically, rushed through with very little debate -- I don’t think many legislators have seen the law,” said Roland Zullo, a research scientist at the University of Michigan’s Institute for Labor and Industrial Relations. “There’s retribution on many levels here.”
Conservatives want to defund unions, which helped reelect Barack Obama, Zullo said. They also want to push back against a labor initiative from November that would have enshrined collective-bargaining rights in Michigan’s constitution. That initiative failed by a large margin, emboldening conservatives.