NewsNation | December 11, 2012
>> enough to stop michigan 's republican lawmakers from approving two bills making it illegal for public and private unions to compel workers to pay union dues a. short time ago, the michigan legislature okayed the bills despite protests of more than 10,000 workers who came out in the freezing cold to show their opposition. and past hour, republican governor rick snyder pledged to sign both in to law as early as tomorrow making michigan the nation's 24th right to work state.
>> i didn't do this for the politics. this is a policy issue that came about because the proposal 2 went down and we had a large-scale discussion going on and best to say it's on the table. let's make decisions, move forward. this is to move michigan forward. about more and better jobs and worker choice.
>> and one top union official has vowed to wage war against lawmakers that support the measure saying, quote, we are going to take you out. nbc's ron mott has the latest of lansing.
>> reporter: good afternoon, tamron. protest is the word of the day . they're voicing opposition to this legislation that would make michigan the 24th right to work state in the country. now, the governor rick snyder is expected to sign this legislation when and if it hits his desk. a lot of folks here believe that this is a back door attempt at trying to limit democracy in the state of michigan . you can hear some of the protests behind me and union workers here believe it's a direct attempt at trying to break the backs of the unions as i should say and a lot of folks believe that this is payback for the result of the election on november 6th . the re-election of president obama . i spoke with the head of the chamber of commerce here in michigan . he believes this is going to be beneficial to the state. helps him go around the country and around the world promoting jobs in michigan . this will make business more pro-friendly here in michigan . now, some of the workers here today believe it's an issue of fairness. that they believe all the advances that union leadership over the generations have helped to put in effect here in this state are essentially going to be taken advantage of nonpaying members. here's what a member had to say this morning.
>> you bring a nonunion worker in there, he gets the same pay i did for no training whatsoever and not doing the job and get representation without having to pay -- i pay union dues . he's going to get the same representation i get and not have to pay. where is that fair?
>> reporter: when and if governor snyder signs the legislation a lot of folks will say he's turned his back on the word but the nature of this debate here in michigan , a lot of folks believe that because this is being passed through lame duck session , you have a little more liberal body coming in with the next legislature and this is a way for republicans to get back at democrats for their successes earlier in november with the election, re-election of president obama . we'll have to see where this debate goes from here. what's interesting to note is that this legislation was tied to an appropriations measure and cannot be rescinded by referendum which we saw in ohio. now back to you.
>> all right. thank you. joining me now, michigan congressman levine, ranking democrat on the house ways and means committee . thank you for your time.
>> good to be here.
>> you said that the governor divided michigan , that this is his legacy, frightful not only for him but the people of the state and for the middle class . how are you processing what's happened this morning in your home state?
>> it's a terrible result. here's what's at stake. a voice for workers in the workplace . this turbulence, by the way, is bad for michigan . it is also bad for the workplace because workers want a voice and they got one. they want to be sure that when conditions are set, they're part of the process . and essentially, here's what happens under so-called -- under this so-called bill. look. it isn't a matter of freedom. what it says is this. when a union is picked, when people are able to select a bargaining representative by majority vote , the person who represe represents, the group that represents those workers has to represent everybody freely and completely. there can be no discrimination. they don't have to pay union dues . they don't have to belong to a union but everybody should pay a fair share of the representation from which they benefit. that's what's at stake here. essentially, should there be free riders ? i don't think so. in this country, everybody should bear their responsibility and when the governor says it's good for business, just ask the executives of the big three whether they want the turmoil within the workplace .
>> sir --
>> the answer is, they don't.
>> let me bring up what some noted what they're calling hypocrisy of democrats and something from "the washington times " saying democrats are showing a bit of hypocrisy with right to work legislation, supporting choice when it comes to subjects like abortion and marriage but hurting the repute any effort to give more choice. they now seem to have the sole purpose of spending union clues on liberal issues and liberal democratic campaigns across the country without input of workers forced to join in. the bottom line, the implication in the article and what some republicans are saying is that you have the power of the union vote, for example, in this past presidential election . but in fact, you don't want to give workers a choice.
>> that's nonsense. look. people would have to pay some fee to be represented from which they benefit. none of the money that they put in can be used for political purposes. it's not a matter of free choice . essentially what so-called right to work does is says this. that there will be increasingly less choice for workers to be represented in the workplace because those who represent them will have less and less in terms of resources in order to represent them. this is an effort to cripple a voice in the workplace . that's what this is all about. if you look at states that have so-called right to work, there are fewer and fewer collective bargaining agreements . workers do not have a voice. the voice of workers helped to make the middle class in this country. to help the middle class in michigan . to raise wages for everybody. to raise so that everybody had health benefits . so they had a retirement. this is an effort to cripple people's right to have a voice in the workplace . we fought for this. when we started this decades ago, teachers were making $5,000 a year. firefighters were making $5,000 a year. because they had a voice in the workplace , their pay went up. they got retirement. they also got health care . this is an effort essentially not only to turn back the clock but to rip its hands off. this is a tragic day. not only for the people of michigan but for decent labor management relations in michigan and throughout this country.
>> congressman, thank you so much for your time. reacting to this breaking news story that we'll continue to following there this hour. thank you, sir,