The Cycle | December 11, 2012
>>> developing news this hour. protesters rae main out of michigan 's capitol building urging the governor not to sign right to work legislation and barring them from requiring workers to pay union dues as a condition of employment. the state house passed both bills today dealing with private and public sector unions. protesters were shouting "shame on you" from the gallery. michael moore said they're up to 15,000 people at the protest. state senate passed both bills last week and now michigan governor rick snyder says he'll sign them as early as tomorrow. nbc's ron mott is there. what's the latest?
>> reporter: hey there, good day to you. i'm not sure about 15,000 number but there are still a lot of folks here. most of them have probably started making their away from the state capitol because the measures here to protest have come and gone. as you mentioned the house passing two measures of public and private unions. i came back from an interview with the governor and asked him about the timing of this. this is pushed through the legislature in a lame deck session. a few more democratic me believes headed here and i asked the governor why not just table it? let the bills come to the desk, veto it and come back in january and have a fuller debate if you will. his answer was essentially that they've had plenty of time to debate this issue. that he said organized labor put a measure on the ballot in november that failed at the ballot box by voters and something that was top of mind for folks in state of michigan and workers and union workers say it's unfair for nonmembers to benefit essentially from generations of hard work by unions especially here in michigan where the auto industry and those unions that have a lot of members working for those autoworkers did work for the middle class here. a gentleman said that this was a nail in the kofb for organized labor and middle class not only here in michigan but around the country for many other families around america, as well. if this passes and the governor says he will sign these in to law, probably tomorrow, michigan will become the 24th state to become a right to work state, a lot of people here at least unhappy about that. back up to you guys.
>> all right. thanks, ron mott, in lansing, michigan . let's take this to the table now. toure, your thoughts?
>> a friend of mine at the protests as a journalist. he said in the building they're saying they won't leave and may have a violent removal ahead of us. she talked about americans for prosperity. their tent force bring dismantled after throwing pennies at the union workers. your labor isn't worth these. this is not concern of workers or choice or freedom. the buzz words thrown around. this is about helping business lower wages in states where they have right to work laws, higher rates of poverty and lower wages by almost $9,000.
>> and lower unemployment in those states.
>> not always.
>> not true.
>> yes, true.
>> it's about the right of less power and to make less money. and you're empowering people to fleeload. you can get high rates of due compliance and it's possible and very, very hard for yuxs s tounions to do that. before you enter the workplace, generations of work, before you enter, the union did generations of work. we don't work on weekends. we get overtime. children don't work. unions did it to make it fairer, wages better and coming in and freeload, that's not fair or what the american people are about.
>> you know, there were a couple things in ron 's report that jumped out at me. asking snyder , why not wait until january when you have the newly elected legislature and the answer is he wouldn't have the votes then. you have more democrats coming in. michigan 's one of the states where there are pro-labor republicans left and you have a combination of a few republicans and a lot of democrats and they would have had the votes on paper to stop it in january. that's why there's the rush here and a quote i think from the labor person saying the death nail or the nail in the coffin for organized labor . the course here, not so fast, my friends. he is going to sign this tomorrow. snyder will sign it and michigan will be a right to work state and the status in limbo for two years and the question is how do democrats and the unions and how do the pro- union republicans pursue overturn this? and republicans acute in how they put together and appropriations bill and no automatic way to get a referendum to put it on the ballot. what they can do, however, is get 8%, signatures equivalent to 8% of the turnout in the 2010 election, the last gubernatorial election . if they collect 8% of the public like that they can put it on the ballot in 2014 so there would be that. the other issue is this. rick snyder is up for re-election in 2014 anyway.
he already isn't that popular: michigan is generally a blue state to start with. so if you could take out rick snyder in 2014 , again, the legislature as it will be comprised this coming year amenable with the democratic governor to undoing the law.
>> you don't mean a recall.
>> no, no. like in wisconsin, you know, a lot of people in the wake of that say how did scott walker win by so much? voters may not have liked what he did but they didn't like the idea of, you know, he's in the middle of the term. let him finish we elected him to. that's not an issue for snider in 2014 .
>> i think it should be pointed out that the unions in michigan stand to lose $100 million a year and you can't remove that from the discussion when you're talking about the stakes. the stakes are high. for both sides but i think steve has very smartly laid out the mechanisms by which people who object to these right to work laws can go about overturning them if they so choose. hopefully what doesn't happen is the kind of protest turned in to violence kind of things that we've seen before. not just in union situations and over labor fights but in general. as toure mentioned, they overturned the afp tent today. we have footage of that. did not look good. you have folks like michigan state representative douglas geise out there promising there will be blood and a tweet saying there will be blood and we'll relive the battle of the overpass referencing a 1937 strike where folks from the ford motor company and labor organizers were beaten up. i mean, that's not the kind of rhetoric we need to jump to when having this fight. as passionate as it is.
>> yeah. i mean, i think although there may be recourse in this particular fight, they may be able to put it back on the ballot and may not stand and get snyder out. it is a major, major wake-up call for people like me who are pro-labor and pro- union in this country to say if it happens in michigan , it could happen absolutely anywhere. i lock at the fact that the initiative they had on the ballot last time, it didn't just fail by a narrow margin. with the president on the ballot, it failed 58-42 and that tells me that unions are not getting their story out of all those great things that you talked about. how they're responsible for workplace safety . for weekends. for, you know, reason --
>> increasing wages. there's so much that unions have done in this country and continue to do and put back up the favorite chart and showed yesterday and should be shown every day. as union membership declined so has middle class income share. it is a very tight correlation and i don't think that unions are doing a good job telling that story to the american people . people think, they hear the rhetoric about choice and freedom and they sound, why should i be forced to join a union ?
>> without understanding the benefit that is they would be getting from that union and that you can't just have people freeriding on the system.
>> wouldn't they choose to join the union anyway?
>> people don't understand the value that they're getting from the union .
>> let me just respond to that. the difference is, though, they would still be getting the benefits of the union even if they didn't pay in the dues so why would you pay if you're getting the benefits? one potential model for the future for unions is to look at culinary 226 in las vegas , nevada. nevada is a right to work state and yet they have managed to communicate how important their union is and how important union membership is so they have near 100% membership compliance. those sorts of stories need to be told.
>> there's a problem for unions here and you hit it earlier. yeah, there's a good message out there to put out there and there's something fundamental sort of about the american value and we like to think of ourselves as individuals and fundamentally the message of unions and it serves a noble purpose but the message of unions is you are part of a group, a collective organization here. and we have this impulse to rebel against that. no, damn it, i'm my own man, i'm my own woman. why should i have to --
>> you can't force me to.
>> you're fighting this and tell the story of all these benefits there's an instinct to say, damn it, i'll get it on my own.
>> i'm sure there will be more of this in weeks to come.
>>> straight ahead, i've been gone for five days and we're talking fiscal cliff? word is there are new signs of progress. we'll talk it over with joan walsh next as "the cycle" rolls on for tuesday, december 11th , 2012 . [