Last year, Michigan Republicans pushed through a radical “right to work” anti-union law. In the days before the law was passed, thousands of Michiganders protested, as it was being pushed through in a lame duck session so a number of defeated Republicans could vote for the unpopular measure.
During those protests, Fox News contributor Steven Crowder claimed that a union protester punched him. The network ran video showing one protester punching Crowder, giving the impression that it was an unprovoked attack. That video has 1.4 million views on YouTube, and was used as anti-union propaganda by the network.
Crowder soon filed a police report following the December 11 incident. But the county prosecutor, Stuart Dunnings III, has now said that he will refuse to prosecute. Dunning explained that he viewed an unedited clip of the same situation — captured by The Young Turks — and that it clearly shows that the protester who threw the punch was first pushed down, and that it appears that he was simply acting in self defense against a larger crowd that first attacked him.
Watch the unedited footage:
“I’m not holding that against him, but why would they provide the edited video? The longer video clearly shows the guy got pushed down and came up swinging,” said Billings.
Last month, Michigan passed an anti-union so-called “right to work” law that will undermine collective bargaining rights by allowing workers to accept union representation without paying union dues.
Electablog has obtained audio from an Americans for Prosperity event where Republican Senator Patrick Colbeck proudly boasts that right-wing billionaire Dick DeVos bankrolled the push for this anti-union law:
COLBECK: Various bills from the legislator’s perspective are kinda broken into two ingredients: air cover and ground cover. Air cover is financial backing and making sure that we’ve got contributions so that they’ve got enough money to go off and get this group out.
So, air cover is critical and I gotta tell ya, Dick DeVos and Ron Weiser are unsung heroes on this great work, that they were critical on the air cover element and getting us across — and they also opened up doors, frankly, with rarefied air that even Mike didn’t have access to and even I definitely didn’t have access to.
“It’s amazing what Republican politicians will say to Tea Party activists when they think no one is listening,” said Progress Michigan executive director Zack Pohl in a statement. “This just confirms what we’ve long suspected, that Gov. Snyder’s so-called Right to Work bill was bought-and-paid for by billionaire CEO Dick DeVos. It’s time for politicians like Snyder and Colbeck to start protecting middle class families, not the special interests.”
This former Democratic congressman stood with protesters today.
Over ten thousand people are protesting at Michigan’s capitol building, trying to stop a radical “Right To Work” law from being passed that would undermine labor unions in the state.
One of those protesting is former Democratic Rep. Mark Schauer (MI). Schauer told the Battle Creek Enquirer that he was actually pepper sprayed by police earlier today:
Former congressman Mark Schauer said he was pepper-sprayed by police today while leading anti-right to work protesters outside the state Capitol.
Schauer said he was part of a crowd of protesters outside the Capitol’s north wing as the Michigan House was voting on controversial right-to-work measures. Schauer said police came to move the protesters away from the building. He said he tried to negotiate a line away from the Capitol that police would accept when he and “a number” of people were sprayed.
“I immediately began to retreat and began to cover my eyes and my mouth,” Schauer said. “It was not good.”
Recall that Schauer himself is not only a former Democratic congressman but also a member of a union himself. He’s a part of the Laborers union Local 355.
Today, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder (R) is working with Republicans in the legislature to pass an anti-union “Right To Work” law that he earlier said would be “inappropriate” to pursue.
Over ten thousand Michiganders are protesting at the capital of Lansing today to try to stop this radical law. Standing alongside them are progressive Democrats in the Michigan legislature. One of these is State Senator Gretchen Whitmer, the minority leader. Here’s an excerpt from a floor speech she gave last week:
WHITMER: This legislation is petty and vindictive politics at its most disgusting. [...] And now for one of your final pieces of business in this legislative calendar, you want to pass “right to work” legislation that hurts workers and our economy by lowering employee wages, benefits, and workplace protections. Another bow to big business and wealthy special interests at the cost of our people.
Watch her entire speech:
Towards the end of her speech, she promised to walk out of the chamber and join the protesting workers if her words were cut off. She was then allowed to finish.
Earlier today, Michigan Republicans killed an amendment that would’ve allowed the “right to work” bill to be subject to a popular referendum. It appears that the state’s business elites and their allies in the legislature are afraid of letting people vote on this radical change to labor law.
Michigan’s Republican Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley has taken to Twitter to defend his administration’s push for an anti-union “Right To Work” law which would allow workers to be represented by unions without having to pay union dues.
Here’s one weak defense Calley offered for enacting “Right To Work.” He said that he isn’t required to donate to any church he attends, so workers should be able to represented by unions in the workplace without being asked to pay dues:
Calley’s analogy widely misses the mark. Unions represent workers at their workplace and need dues to be able to do that. Almost all people have to work to be able to provide for their families, and representation in the workplace is explicitly part of a democratic society.
Unlike the workplace, religious worship is a fundamentally private and voluntary activity and is not subject to the same government oversight (and for good reason).
If Calley wants to invoke the church, he should listen to one of its most famous men, the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Here’s what he had to say about “right to work”:
“In our glorious fight for civil rights, we must guard against being fooled by false slogans, such as ‘right to work.’ It is a law to rob us of our civil rights and job rights.
Its purpose is to destroy labor unions and the freedom of collective bargaining by which unions have improved wages and working conditions of everyone…Wherever these laws have been passed, wages are lower, job opportunities are fewer and there are no civil rights. We do not intend to let them do this to us. We demand this fraud be stopped. Our weapon is our vote.”
Thousands of Michiganders are expected to converge on the capitol today to protest against the so-called “Right To Work” bill. We’ll keep you updated.
Right now, Michigan’s Republican Governor Rick Snyder is working on passing a so-called “Right To Work” law that would crush the state’s unions and disempower its workers. Snyder is doing this in direct contradiction to his words earlier this year, when he said it wouldn’t be “appropriate” to try to pass such a law.
Over at the Maddow Blog, Laura Conaway has a very interesting find. The so-called “Michigan Freedom Fund” (MFF) is running a commercial supporting the new anti-union law, and it features teachers in classrooms, and a young boy waving an American flag. Watch it:
Here’s Conway’s interesting find. Both the boy in the ad and the teacher in the classroom are parts of stock footage reels — meaning that they are actors, and not even actors that Michigan Freedom Fund paid to employ. Rather, they are simply bits of reel footage. In fact, the same flag-waving boy was used in an attack ad that was aired against Democrat Rep. Peter DeFazio — all the way out in Oregon.
MFF is trying to create popular support for the crackdown on unions, but it seems like it can’t even find real Michiganders for its commercials. Recall that MFF is run by Greg McNeilly, who is an employee of Dick DeVos’s Windquest Group. DeVos is a billionaire heir of the Amway fortune, and a major right-wing Republican donor.
Elections have consequences. And when Michigan voters went to the polls this November, they did not vote to crush the rights of labor unions, as Republican Governor Rick Snyder is now attempting to do by implementing a so-called “Right To Work” law.
In fact, Snyder explicitly said that he opposed signing such a law in Michigan this year. Here’s Snyder at a hearing earlier this year:
SNYDER: Right to work is an issue that’s a very divisive issue. … I don’t believe it’s appropriate in Michigan during 2012.
Snyder’s new push to break the backs of labor unions represents a stunning reversal from his pre-election comments.
A day of protests and rallies at the Michigan Capitol has begun with Democratic Rep. Barb Byrum of Onondaga seeking an apology from Republicans for a one-day, House floor speaking ban last month. Byrum, along with the Progressive Change Campaign Committee and Democracy For America members, said she delivered more than 115,000 signatures calling on Republican House Speaker Jase Bolger to publicly apologize for the ban [more]
Rep. Gary Peters (D-Mich.) is urging support for a Michigan lawmaker who was barred from speaking on the state House floor after using the word “vagina” in an abortion debate.. Peters grabbed attention for joining a petition in support of Brown and her colleague, Barb Byrum (D)… The Progressive Change Campaign Committee, which is behind the petition, has launched online ads targeting Bolger and another GOP leader in response to the scandal. [more]
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