PoliticsNation | December 11, 2012
>>> grab in michigan . republican governor rick snyder has just signed bills designed to cripple unions. and take away workers' rights even though earlier this year he said such a move would be quote, divisive and inappropriate. snyder signed the bills despite protests from more than 10,000 people who descended on the state capitol in a massive push back against this shameless power play from the republicans.
>> right the work is wrong! right the work is wrong!
>> he lied to us. he lied to us on numerous occasions.
>> veto! veto!
>> kill the bill! kill the bill!
>> the protests were passionate and grew tense. in this video from the state's aclu, you can see police actually using pepper spray on some of the demonstrators. the issue in michigan is the republican legislature ramming through a so-called right to work bill. with no warning and no hearings. but the fight is bigger than michigan . it's a fight about worker rights and civil rights across the country. this country, the american people , rejected this kind of extremism on election day . but republicans didn't get the message. gop lawmakers ignored the outcry in the halls of the capitol to pass two bills they hope will devastate both public and private sector unions.
>> they have been shut out completely. the people have been shut out of this discussion.
>> it has been said that absolute power corrupts absolutely. and this is absolute evidence.
>> so what this is is a victory for people like dick de voss, mitt romney , the koch brothers, and other corporate ceos who believe the path to prosperity in michigan is paved with lower wages and lower benefits.
>> this is a stunning slap in the face for unions in michigan . the birthplace of the modern labor movement . in 1936 autoworkers in flint, michigan , staged a sit-down demanding their rights. it lasted 44 days and they won. general motors recognized the united auto workers for the first time. and in 1965 , michigan 's republican governor george romney worked with unions to sign historical bills recognizing the right to collective bargaining . nearly 50 years later, the gop is trying to undo all that progress. a massive power grab by a republican party that just lost an election. this didn't just happen out of the blue. we're learning this has been orchestrated by far right conservatives who have made threats against politicians and literally bullied their way into getting what they wanted.
>> dick devos and extreme right wing control what's going on in the state. and the koch brothers, americans for prosperity all pushing for the legislation, threatening the governor, threatening different representatives. they were threatened that they would have a primary challenge from the tea party .
>> threats, intimidation. on democratic moves. right now michigan is the center of the right wing attack on workers rights and we must fight it. joining me now is democratic congressman from michigan gary peters . he met with governor snyder yesterday. and from lansing, michigan , state senator gretchen witmer, and the reverend charles williams . president of the michigan chapter of the national action network and senior pastor of the historic king solomon baptist church in detroit. thank you, all three for joining me tonight.
>> great to be with you.
>> thank you.
>> congressman peters, let me start with you. the governor snyder has signed this bill. now, what's the next step?
>> this is absolutely outrageous. what we've seen in the last hours. compete about face from a governor who said this should not be part of the agenda. and to do this without any hearings. then what i think is particularly outrageous. the next step is we could have gone to a referendum. put it on the ballot for the voters to make a decision. particularly in a state like michigan which has been the center of the labor movement from the very beginning. instead they did a very tricky maneuv maneuver. they put a small appropriation on that bill. you can't go to a referendum. we have democrats that would be joining the state house . they weren't going to pass it in the new legislature, so they jammed it through here and put something in to make it difficult to have a referendum. it is certainly not over. this is going to be a contentious issue going forward.
>> can this be overturned? can he be recall snd.
>> he could. you could see a move to recall him. you could also see a initiative. there are a number of options. but i think one thing is very clear. particularly with the demonstrations we saw in lanzing here today is that folks aren't going to let this slide by. they're going to be aggressive. they're going to be out there and letting all of those legislators who voted for this know that this is a despicable action. it is a reckless action that is going to harm working class families in the state of michigan .
>> senator witmer, you've been out there today. let me show you this. governor snyder today said this. let me let you listen to this and respond.
>> i ask them not to go forward. the reason i said is you're going to start a divisive discussion regarding collective bargaining first. then this right to work discussion continued to escalate and was becoming divisive. i viewed it as on the table. it's a hot issue. let's show some leadership. i stepped up to say when i review it, i think it's a good thing.
>> now, senator, the governor is saying here because there's a referendum on the ballot, that he told them not to do it. it's almost like he's blaming labor for what they did in a lame duck session with no hearings?
>> exactly. give me a break. this governor just last week when he announced this about face said that this was good public policy . now he's admitting that this is about political retribution. this is anti-worker, anti-family, anti-woman. and they're doing it in the most anti- american way . it is absolutely repulsive this governor is such a coward he had to announce it from behind locked doors , lock people out of the capitol, now he's signed it behind a wall of armed police officers. you know why he's doing that? because he knows the public disagrees on this one and he is dead wrong.
>> behind a wall of police officers . reverend williams, you and other civil rights groups up there today, what was it look up there?
>> well, first of all reverend sharpton, let me thank you for your leadership around this issue in terms of bringing the national civil rights table together. we here in michigan national action network , we're on the front lines of this issue simply because it's not just about the folks in unions but the folks on the outside of unions. so we're going to fight this to the very end. and we're going to not let governor snyder get any rest until we return the working people back their rights that they had before governor snyder signed this.
>> the gop 's war on workers, we hear the language very similar to alec when we see michigan 's proposed right to work billing mirror the word for word the detroit free press says. we know there's koch brother moneys. do you expect people around the country now to rally in michigan to possibly deal with a recall? or whatever options are available that congressman peters referred to?
>> i think so. i think we've got to hold these guys accountable. this guy won't answer my phone call . he'll ignore 13,000 people at the capitol this morning. but you know whose call he will answer? the koch brothers. and that's wrong. maybe we lost this today, but this fight is not over.
>> congressman peters -- congressman peters, explain to the people watching around the country what happened. a lot of people just can't understand how this could have happened so quickly. i mean, like, overnight. the blinking of an eye. all of a sudden you see bill passed the state senate , bill passed the house, governor signs it. i mean, before we understood what was going on.
>> it is -- it's hard to explain. and it is particularly hard to explain because we have a governor who repeatedly said this was not on his agenda. this would be divisive for our state. he continually said that for a couple years. and immediately after the election had a really sharp about face and just jammed it through without any hearings or public input. i was able to meet with him and other members of the congressional delegation. he sat and listened to us but barely responded. when he did, i was amazed at the lack of understanding he has about this issue. it is hard to explain. it is something the people in the state of michigan will have to wonder how a governor could do this. how a state legislature could do this. that's why we need to not give up this fight. and push back.
>> is he a puppet of the koch brothers, of the amway fortune? is he just working for other interests?
>> could be. that's an interesting thing about it. that we saw as he announced this there was a $2 million ad buy financed by outside groups with these tv ads. this was an orchestrated attempt to do this. it was planned well in advance. they sprung it quickly before anybody could really react.
>> reverend williams, does this effect people in your church? people that attend? regular people ? this is more than just union bosses. how does this affect ordinary average people in michigan ?
>> well, reverend sharpton, right to work means no rights at work. and so we unequivocally understand that these laws are only to break and bust collective bargaining agreements . we understand that is only going to make it so the wages are lower. and as you know and as the statistics show and have shown throughout the years is that seven out of the ten states that are right to work states are the poorest states in the country. this is absolutely ludicrous. and when you talk about the koch brothers and you talk about all of the right wing alignments, this is the same governor that when we fought against him to not sign voter suppression laws, he decided not to sign it. so i believe we can change his mind. but it's going to take fighting. if he don't return senator witmer's calls, we'll have to make house calls .
>> all right. we'll be staying on this story. thanks so much for your time tonight.
>> great to be with you.
>> thank you.
>>> the michigan power grab you may not know about. an attack on women's rights is happening now in michigan . and it must be stopped.
>>> republicans lost in translation . congressman allen west says he lost because the democrats cheated. yeah, well, you lost. and no santa for you this year.
>>> and scalia versus beck. winner take all. the fight that even has the gop afraid. anyone got any popcorn? stick around for that. you're watching "politicsnation" on msnbc. twins. i didn't see them coming. i have obligations. cute obligations, but obligations. i need to rethink the core of my portfolio. what i really need is sleep. introducing the ishares core, building blocks for the heart of your portfolio. find out why 9 out of 10 large professional investors choose ishares for their etfs. ishares by blackrock. call
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