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GOP, Koch Brothers Sneak Attack Guts Labor Rights in Michigan

By       Message John Nichols       (Page 2 of 2 pages) Become a premium member to see this article and all articles as one long page.     Permalink

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That's not the only difference between Michigan Governor Snyder and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, whose name became synonymous with aggressive anti-labor initiatives when in February 2011, he moved to strip collective bargaining rights from teachers and public employees.

"At least Scott Walker had the backbone to barge through the front door" and propose his legislation, argued Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer, a pro-labor Democrat from East Lansing. Michigan's Snyder, who suggested for months that he was not interested in advancing "right to work" legislation, suddenly shifted position at the eleventh hour, when he sided with the most rigidly anti-labor of his party's legislators.

"They're cowards," declared Whitmer, who bluntly declared: "They are taking away our rights."

Whitmer got that right. But the cowards were in charge Thursday.

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As in Wisconsin, where crucial elements of Walker's anti-labor law have been ruled unconstitutional by the courts, the Michigan legislators bent the rules of their chambers to rush the law to Snyder's desk.

Ultimately, those abuses could end up preventing implementation of the law -- although that's a hope rather than a certainty.

There is also the hope that voters in a state that voted overwhelmingly for President Obama and Democratic Senator Debbie Stabenow on November 6 will eventually elect a new pro-labor governor and legislature.

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The determination to fight for labor rights runs deep in Michigan. It's a part of the state's history, and UAW President King  says it is far from finished.

Referring to anti-labor billionaire Dick DeVos, a Michigan Republican who has worked closely with fellow billionaires Charles and David Koch to fund anti-labor initiatives, King said: "This is a short-term victory for Dick DeVos and the radical right wing. In the long-term there will be a victory for working families in Michigan."

For more on the assault on American worker rights, check out Steve Fraser's "The Hollowing Out of America."

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John Nichols, a pioneering political blogger, has written the Online Beat since 1999. His posts have been circulated internationally, quoted in numerous books and mentioned in debates on the floor of Congress.

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