Politics

12.12.12

The Democrats' Fight in Michigan

It tells us something that Governor Rick Snyder signed the right-to-work bill into law with no fanfare, in private, as if he didn't quite want to own up to it. The whole question of how this came about is an interesting one, and light is shed here by this post by Theresa Riley, which appeared yesterday on Bill Moyers's web site.

She cites Detroit News reports fingering the usual suspects:

The Detroit News reports that after requests from Grover Norquist and others, Snyder switched sides on the issue. United Auto Workers President Robert King said in an interview, that the Koch brothers and Amway owner Dick DeVos “bullied and bought their way to get this legislation in Michigan.”

In an editorial headlined “Drinking the Kochs’ Kool Aid,” the Detroit Free Press was unable to account for the governor’s change of heart, but offered some theories on the motivations of State Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville. He may have been under pressure, the newspaper said, from the anti-union Americans for Prosperity and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), both financially supported by the Koch brothers. ALEC’s model right-to-work bill “mirrors the Michigan law word for word.

That Amway guy gets less press than the Kochs, but he's in right-wing causes up to his eyeballs, usually behind the scenes, except that he did run for governor in 2006, spending more than any gubernatorial candidate in Michigan history ($40 million) and getting totally clobbered by my buddy Jennifer Granholm, who has me on her TV show, which you should watch by the way.

I'll give them credit for a certain perspicacity. Norquist and the Kochs and others on the right are constantly taking the pulse of state legislatures to see where potential opportunities arise. ALEC, cited above, is the vehicle for much of this activity.

But I would think that Michigan voters, if properly organized by labor, might undo this. Remember, Ohio voters undid a somewhat similar conservative law last year. That vote was 61 to 39 percent, and if anything Michigan is slightly more union friendly.

Democrats can't afford to leave this fight to unions. The ultimate goal here is to weaken not just unions, but the Democratic Party. So the Democrats--the national party, the money people, and so on--have no choice but to put some muscle into this fight, starting today.