Events, Labor — December 11, 2012 at 7:52 am

LIVEBLOG: Michigan anti-Right to Work for Less rally in Lansing


THIS is what democracy looks like

This post will be updated continuously throughout the day. My Eclectacorrespondents Anne (my wife) and Abby (my friend) will be sending in reports, photos and videos throughout the day. I will join them this afternoon when I get out of work. Anne has a camera set-up that sends her high-res digital images straight to her iPhone so we should have some great photos throughout the day.

To get things started, here’s a picture Kitty McClain sent to Tony Trupiano of Senator Jack Brandenburg during last week’s Right to Work for Less debate:

Kitty reports that Brandenburg spent most of the time with his feet up on his desk, reading a newspaper and completely ignoring the debate going around him. When protestors in the gallery got noisy, he would turn around and derisively wave “bye-bye” to them.


I guess when they say ‘Democracy isn’t pretty’, this is exactly what they had in mind.

Here’s a shot from the MEA whose members are already at the Capitol Building on this crisp Michigan winter morning:

Tweeter bonga sends me this photo of “Rats in the Capitol”:

Coming in from Detroit? @weezwrites has a suggestion due to massive traffic congestion:

Anne reports that I-127 is backed up as far as Jolly Road. Plan accordingly!

Governor Snyder has been discovered using the state government email system to talk politics to state employees along with some good old fashioned fearmongering:

A memo to state workers explaining Gov. Rick Snyder’s position on right to work and urging safety precautions during protests at the Capitol prompted a call for an apology Monday.

The memo, obtained by The Detroit News, was sent to thousands of state employeesjust as Gov. Rick Snyder and Republican legislative leaders last Thursday announced their support for the legislation that makes it optional for workers to pay union fees.

The memo plugged the benefits of right to work and warned state employees to keep their cellphones charged, avoid walking alone and follow other safety practices.

“At 11 a.m., Governor Snyder and legislative partners will announce their support for legislation that gives Michigan men and women the freedom to decide whether they want to join a labor union,” began a memo emailed to Michigan Economic Development Corporation employees, some of whom are unionized. {…}

Ray Holman, legislative liaison for UAW Local 6000, which represents 17,000 state employees, said workers from several state department reported getting similar memos. Holman objected that state-owned equipment was used to send what he called a political message.

“It went to thousands of state employees,” Holman said. “It talked about the virtues of the right-to-work legislation, and the undercurrent is that union people are going to be engaging in criminal activities.

“The whole point was ‘Watch your back, union people are going to get you.'”

Good grief. Talk about overreaction:

The Detroit Free Press says Governor Snyder has drunk the “Koch Kool-Aid”:

Editorial: Drinking the Kochs’ Kool-Aid

A narrative gaining currency among Rick Snyder’s defenders explains his flip-flop on right-to-work legislation as a reluctant response to labor unions who put Proposal 2 on the November ballot over the governor’s objections, then refused to bargain with good faith with him afterward.

But the truth? Snyder hasn’t gotten much respect from the groups backing right-to-work, either.

Americans For Prosperity, founded by billionaire tea party titans David and Charles Koch, is heralding Michigan’s imminent passage of right-to-work legislation laws in Michigan as “the shot heard around the world” in the fight to weaken unions.

But the group was also a significant financial backer of Proposal 5, an effort to amend the Michigan Constitution to bar tax increases without a two-thirds legislative supermajority.

So why would Snyder turn from labor unions to a group that was behind a constitutional amendment he described as “bad public policy”?

The answer may lie in another Koch-funded group, the American Legislative Exchange Council, which promotes a radical right-wing agenda in states across the country, supplying “model legislation” to sympathetic lawmakers.

More overreaction (notice the tear gas canisters and zip-tie handcuffs):

Anne’s pictures are starting to come in now:

On the steps of the Capitol, looking down Michigan Avenue

The Rat Pack

Inside the Capitol Rotuna where Anne says it is deafening

By the way, if you’re not following Anne (@anne_savage) on Twitter, you should be.

Inside the Rotunda – “Right to Work has GOT to go!”

Apparently the Capitol Building is now closed with over 2,000 people inside.

Some news from SEIU Local 517M:

Also, this:

The amendment to remove the $1,000,000 appropriation from the House bill (which makes it immune to a citizen’s ballot referendum) fails 64-47. Can’t be having the simple folk weighing in what Senator Carl Levin called “as serious issue as has ever been seen in this state”. That’s just for our Big Government Republican mommies and daddies, I guess…

Crowd estimates are 15,000. VERY impressive. Look at this photo tweeted by Dennis Biondo:

UPDATE: The magnificent photo above was taken by Dave Kreisman of Dave Kreisman Photography. My apologies for not giving correct attribution when I first published it. Visit his Facebook page and add a Like HERE. He has some spectacular photos there.

More photos from Anne:

And video from inside the Rotunda:

Apparently protestors tore down Americans For Prosperity’s tent. Great job, guys. So much for “peaceful demonstration”.

Damn it…

12:05 p.m. – House Bill 4003 passes the House 58-51 and is now on its way to Governor Snyder’s desk to be signed into law. Only Republicans Forlini, Goike, Horn, McBroom, Somerville, and Zorn voted against it.

12:25 p.m. – Senate Bill 116 which is the Right to Work for Less for the private sector has been discharged from Committee. Democrats are arguing that this violates House rules. The full House is now taking it on with Democrats trying yet another amendment to take out the $1,000,000 appropriation which will, in turn, fail because it’s VERY clear that the Republicans have no intention of letting this opportunity to screw the unions pass them by.

By the way, the Senate adjourned for the day. They still have a bill of their own to pass.

1:35 p.m. – Michigan Radio reports that Republican David Agema is getting turned on by police making protestors on his Facebook page:

Riot police on horses are now macing and pushing back the crowds who tried to storm the building. I fell like I’m back in the military- I’m rather enjoying this. It brings back memories.

1:55 p.m. – Apparently former Congressman Mark Schauer has been maced by police:

1:20 p.m. – Snyder appeared on Andrea Mitchell Reports a short time ago and said he will sign the legislation when it hits his desk. I guess being shamed by a half-dozen Congressman and two U.S. Senators along with a record-breaking crowd outside his office wasn’t enough to sway him. That sweet, sweet DeVos money is a powerful motivator, it seems.

A sit-in has commenced in front of the Romney building and Jesse Jackson, Sr. is speaking to the crowds this afternoon.

1:35 p.m. – House passes S.B. 116 58-52. Michigan is officially a Right to Work for Less/Freedom to Freeload state. It’s worth noting that, given the shift in seats in favor of Democrats on November 6th, this bill would have failed in the new 2013 session.

Susan Demas of MIRS News service informed me that the House Bill 4054, which the Senate passed last Thursday, is the exact same bill as S.B. 116. They only passed it in case the House didn’t have the votes they needed today on 116 (which they did.) Therefore, all that is left is for the Governor’s signature and there’s no doubt that he will sign them, probably early next week.

A protestor says goodbye to the State Capitol Building and the Republicans who run it.

Inside the Rotunda

Austin Blair

Friend of the Blog Rev. D. Alexander Bullock

Rev. Jesse Jackson is calling for a one-day strike.

2:25 p.m. – Multiple reports of pepper spray being used on protestors.

And, with that, I’m heading to Lansing. Probably won’t be any further updates for some time so watch our twitter feeds (@Anne_Savage and @Eclectablog.)