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Michigan Anti-Worker Bill Comes Under Fire in States Across Nation

12/12/2012

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, December 12, 2012
CONTACT: Charles Monaco, Director of Communications and New Media, Progressive States Network, cmonaco@progressivestates.org

Michigan Anti-Worker Bill Comes Under Fire in States across Nation

Chair of Progressive States Network: Michigan Bill Part of “National Strategy to Weaken Middle Class,” State Legislators across Nation "All in this Together"


New York, NY —  Yesterday, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder signed into law controversial so-called “right-to-work” legislation intended to weaken unions and which studies have shown depresses wages and lowers quality of life for all. The signing followed the rapid passage of the bill in a lame duck legislative session, and came on the same day that massive protests took place in Michigan's state Capitol. Across the nation, state lawmakers and others spoke out against the legislation, proclaiming their solidarity with workers in Michigan and promising to continue to fight against similar efforts in their states.

“These extreme attacks on workers that we’ve seen over the past two years in the states have made it clear that there is a national strategy on the part of corporate interests to grab power for themselves and weaken the middle class,” said Iowa State Senator Joe Bolkcom, Chair of the Board of Progressive States Network. “With this latest Koch brothers-bankrolled effort in Michigan to ram through an anti-worker bill with little regard for the democratic process, state legislators from across the nation who want to see a thriving middle class for our constituents are realizing more than ever that we are all in this together.”

In Ohio, where voters decisively repealed the anti-union Senate Bill 5 in a referendum last year, progressive state lawmakers released a statement standing in solidarity with their counterparts in Michigan.

"This is a fight we are all too familiar with in Ohio," said the group of Ohio legislators. "We stand in support of our brothers and sisters in Michigan and across the nation. Not too long ago men and women fought and died for the right to collectively bargain for safe work conditions and a livable wage, and now that right is under attack again in Ohio and across the nation. Put simply, so called 'right to work' is wrong.... We will continue to stand together and fight against these unfair attacks on workers in Ohio, Michigan and across the country."

In states seen as targets for the national corporate interests backing similar anti-worker legislation, progressives promised to fight any effort to weaken the middle class in their states even as conservative governors and lawmakers were downplaying their own intentions to put similar bills on the agenda for 2013:

  • In Ohio, Governor John Kasich told reporters that "right-to-work" was not a priority of his, even though efforts are underway by conservatives to put the issue on the ballot in 2013. If the issue is taken up, progressives are indicating they are preparing for a fight similar to the one that ultimately repealed Senate Bill 5.
  • In Wisconsin, where Governor Scott Walker is coming off of two years of bruising electoral, judicial, and public opinion battles after stripping public employees of collective bargaining rights in 2011, there appears to be little appetite on the part of conservatives to advance "right-to-work" legislation, though progressives remain wary and prepared. Gov. Walker told reporters this week he had no immediate plans to do so, saying "it would be a huge distraction right now."
  • In Pennsylvania, progressives are similarly preparing to fight potential "right-to-work" legislation that Governor Tom Corbett has said he would sign if it reached his desk, even as he indicated there was a lack of political will in the state to advance such legislation, telling a reporter he thinks "there is not much of a movement to do it."

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Progressive States Network (http://www.progressivestates.org) is a non-partisan, non-profit organization dedicated to supporting the work of progressive state legislators around the country and to the advancement of state policies that deliver on the issues that matter to working families: integrating immigrants into our communities, strong wage standards and workplace freedom, balancing work and family responsibilities, health care for all, smart growth and clean energy, tax and budget reform, clean and fair elections, and technology investments to bridge the digital divide.