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One Year Later, Solidarity Thrives

Close up of protesters on December 11, 2012.

Close up of protesters on December 11, 2012.

Exactly one year ago today, Governor Snyder caved to corporate special interests and signed so-called Right to Work, a bill that he himself recognized as “divisive.”

Supporters pretend that so-called Right to Work is about freedom, but the freedoms that actually mean most to working people – like having free time to spend with family or the freedom to retire with dignity – are jeopardized by these policies.

We haven’t seen the job growth that was used as a pretext to pass this controversial legislation. In fact, unemployment is higher than it was a year ago and the governor cannot name one company moving to Michigan because of his actions.

The reality is that RTW was never about creating an economy that works for everyone.  This controversial law is designed to make it harder for workers to speak with one strong voice when negotiating with their employer.

Governor Snyder’s approval rating is very low, and everyday more voters recognize that he is serving corporate special interests.  This is perhaps clearest in Detroit, where the governor’s hand-selected bankruptcy team is doing the bidding of Wall Street investors at the expense of pensioners.

When Snyder closed the NERD Fund without disclosing information about the funds donors, it was the continuation of an agenda that doesn’t prioritize working families.  It matters who paid into the fund because severe conflicts of interest may have existed.  This secretive slush fund was used to upgrade the governor’s home, pay a six-figure salary to his closest advisor, as well as cover lavish housing and travel expenses for his politically-appointed Emergency Manager in Detroit.

The way that a new Court of Claims law was recently rushed through the legislature without much opportunity for public comment is also reminiscent of the anti-democratic way that RTW passed last year.  That power grab may, in part, be an attempt to have the Open Meetings Case challenging RTW heard in a more partisan venue favorable to the Snyder administration.  The first appointees to the Court of Claims are bipartisan, but that does not eliminate the possibility for future abuse.

The Michigan AFL-CIO is working with our affiliates to make sure that they have the support they need to talk to their members about so-called Right to Work and to organize around the pattern of secrecy and overreach established by Governor Snyder.

One positive thing that has come out of all of the attacks on working people – not just RTW but also public education cuts, undemocratic emergency managers, pension taxes, restrictions on women’s health care and others – is a unity that extends outside of the labor movement.

We are grateful to the tens of thousands of people who showed up at the capitol last year, and to all of those who continue to stand up and fight for working people.  One year longer is one year stronger.

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The crowd gathered on the capitol lawn, December 11, 2012.

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