Union bosses in Michigan thought they had pulled off a real coup when they managed to get a measure on the November ballot that would have enshrined their power in the State constitution. Imagine their shock when voters overwhelmingly rejected the amendment.
That was just the beginning of the bad news for the maestros of compulsory unionism. Emboldened by the measure’s defeat, Republicans in the state legislature promptly introduced legislation that would make Michigan the 24th “right-to-work” state in the nation.
Union activists called on their supporters to march on the state capital to protest the proposal. Thousands of supporters showed up in Lansing in response. All of them were pretty noisy; a few were actually amusing, including the ones who put up four giant inflatable rats on the Capitol lawn bearing the names of Governor Rick Snyder and three Republican legislators.
But all was definitely not fun and games. A hospitality tent put up by Americans for Prosperity, one of the groups supporting the measure, was attacked by union partisans and torn down. At least one conservative supporter was physically attacked. A street vendor was called an “Uncle Tom” and worse and had his cart trashed for daring to sell hot dogs to the measure’s supporters.
But all the protests and threats — including one Democratic legislator who said that if the measure passed “there will be blood” — couldn’t prevent a vote from being taken. The legislation passed easily and a few hours later was signed into law by Snyder. The Governor previously had declined to support right-to-work legislation but said he changed his mind when he saw how a similar measure encouraged new jobs in other states.
The week before the vote in Michigan, President Barack Obama flew to the state and tried to rally support for the unions. “What we shouldn’t be doing,” the president proclaimed, “is trying to take away your rights to bargain for better wages and working conditions.”
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Chip Wood (photo)