In 2010, Democrats slept as the Tea Party was able to turn many state legislatures bright red. Michigan was no exception. While he was able to keep his relative distance from the weird xenophobes with the signs, Rick Snyder strode into Lansing with a pretty wide margin of victory. His first two years as governor have drawn accolades from Serious People as the former Gateway Exec has been able to portray himself as a sort of above-it-all, technocratic dweeb. (Campaign slogan: “One Tough Nerd” – it’s so disarming!) For a while, some Dems even gave Snyder credit for moderating a rabidly radical legislature that was so off-the-charts in their right-wing ideological loonacy that they silenced a congresswoman for using the word “vagina” in a debate concerning vaginas.
But the signs were readily apparent to those who paid attention.
Despite the fact that Snyder spent almost 3 years assuring the people of Michigan that he was against Right to Work legislation, last week he signaled a change in direction and yesterday signed ALEC’s standard-issue RTW legislation for private and public sectors. Snyder also managed to retain the typical exemptions carved out for tenuous allies in the (pricier) police and fire unions – because apparently they don’t deserve “fairness in the workplace.”
Labor and Democrats are rightfully indignant. As recently as November, Snyder had said that it wasn’t on his agenda. Then all of a sudden it was. It’s like that terrible Jim Carey movie when he places an ancient artifact on his face and immediately becomes a different person. I believe it’s called, The Artifact Face. Snyder’s rationale for his support was equally infuriating as he vacillated between disingenuous cliché and typical anti-union misinformation.
He blamed the recent Union-backed ballot initiative to enshrine collective bargaining in the state constitution as the impetuts for his change of direction while ignoring the litany of laws he signed over the past two years that hammered at benefits of public employees.
Protests continue to take place as people feel betrayed. I don’t blame them and continue to take part. However, the hoodwinker tipped his hand long ago.
Whether you believe Snyder is a misleading 1% dead-end plutocrat or just a tool of $ backers such as Pyramid Scheme Brat heir Dick Devos and the Koch Brothers, it doesn’t matter. In fact, he’s probably both. He hails balancing the budget in a state with a poor (but improving before him) economy as his keystone achievement. How did he do it? By levying one of the biggest tax increases in state history on state pensions, eliminating the Homestead Tax Credit and reducing the state’s Earned Income Tax Credit. This increased taxes on the poor and middle class by over 30%. By the way, he slashed corporate taxes because their profits were at a record high, but apparently not high enough.
I’ve been able to live a fairly insulated life where changes in public policy very rarely affected my way of life. I’ve never really lived paycheck to paycheck, even when broke in law school. (just take out more loans!) I had the luxury of knowing I could fall back on the assistance of my parents if something unexpectedly catastrophic happened to me.
However, that doesn’t make it any less difficult to watch the continued anti-labor agenda sweeping much of the country. For Snyder’s moneychangers, it’s purely self-serving. Drive down benefits and wages and you can reap even greater profits! Bring a handful of shitty jobs and they can negatively affect the already existing workforce! Everyone(percent) wins!
I’m a proud union staff member. Our typical CNAs – the people wiping your grandmother’s ass, start out at around a luxurious $11/hour. Contrast that to RTW states such as Mississippi (~$8.50) and you can see why this strikes a nerve. These are Americans dealing with rising gas, food and education expenses while wages have been stagnant for 30 years. What’s at stake for Americans like Snyder and the Koch Brothers? A few more gold coins, but mostly increased political control (which equals many more gold coins). I might be biased, but I ain’t lying.
That’s what is so frustrating about public treatment of the RTW issue. It’s not about “freedom” for people to not participate in Unions that were democratically elected by the workforce and can be decertified by democratic vote.
Just come clean and at least allude to the fact that you’re trying to starve organizations that have traditionally supported your political opponents.
Despite MSM reports relying on their standard + bogus false equivalency, Union dues can not be used for political purposes. In fact, that’s the least appealing part of my job – pimping separate PAC donations from people making 20,000 a year. It’s constitutes about 1% of my time (ironically), but still makes me squirm. Then you look at the jokers in the Michigan legislature and realize it’s a necessity needed to counter-balance a fraction of the Citizens’ United cash flooding our political system.
Both sides know the score. Workers in RTW states earn thousands less in wages. They’re less likely to have health insurance and much more likely to live below the poverty line. Union contracts bring up wages + benefits for the non-union workforce as well. It’s not complicated. RTW is about starving a political opponent. How can Unions organize more employees and expand representation if they’re already required to represent workers who don’t have to pay dues? How can they get out the vote for your opponent if their reach is minimized? You don’t need to have private equity or outsourcing experience to know the answer to that.
So that’s where we’re at. I moved to Michigan 2 years ago, but apparently took a wrong turn and ended up in Alabama (without the good football team).
Do I send a big ‘Go fuck yourself’ to Rick Snyder? Absolutely But can I say I’m surprised? No way.
What’s the lesson? Don’t trust your corporate overlords and don’t forget to vote in the midterms.
But seriously, Snyder can go fuck himself.