President Barack Obama came to Michigan the day before the Republican-led State of Michigan government undid over 100 years of labor by the “working class.” Only Obama really framed the issue accurately. While people like Governor Snyder attempted to praise the “economic” benefits for Michigan (he opposed it publicly only months before), the President said the Right to Work bills pending in Michigan’s Republican-run legislature “don’t have to do with economics… They have everything to do with politics.”
What “politics” does our President speak of? The politics of Karl Rove, President Bush, Dan Pero, and former Governor John Engler. They are the architects of a policy that calls for the “economic elimination” of GOP opposition. This approach is much like what Hitler attempted during the 1930s when he said “We must close union offices, confiscate their money, and put their leaders in prison. We must reduce workers’ salaries and take away their right to strike.” Likewise, the Michigan Republican party is attempting to destroy organized labor. The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King knew better, proclaiming “In our glorious fight for civil rights, we must guard against being fooled by false slogans, such as ‘right to work.’ Its purpose is to destroy labor unions and the freedom of collective bargaining.” But it’s even more dangerous than that – Right to Work attempts to eradicate the Democratic Party.
Of the 24 states that are now so-called “Right to Work” states, 19 voted for Republican candidate Mitt Romney in last month’s general election.
So, my friends, what is “Right to Work” and what does it mean? Right to Work provides no rights, no work, and attempts to allow the GOP to try and dominate. Well we know they have more money but we have the votes. Look at the last election – Michigan is a blue state, having gone for Obama in ’08 and ’12 and with 2 Democratic US Senators, but an entirely Republican state government (the governor, both chambers of the legislature, and the Michigan Supreme Court).
What can we do in 2014 to make a difference – and it won’t even cost much money – VOTE! We did it in 2000 when a little-known state senator from Lansing – current US Senator Debbie Stabenow – beat an incumbent US Senator who spent $50 million. Don’t let that “one tough nerd” fool you again. It’s time to stand up for the middle class, for the working class, and for all those who believe people are more important than corporations. When people allow corporations to run roughshod over them all people lose – women, men, children, minorities, everyone but the 2%.
I want to make one more important point that has been lost in the importance of the moment. That is with somewhere between 12,000 and 17,500 people coming together in peaceful protest to demonstrate against this awful legislation, there were only 3 misdemeanor violations handed out, 0 felony charges, and 0 seriously injured. To be fair, during the 12 hour period there were 2 or 3 minor incidents but other than those looking to take things out of context, like one of my favorite Republicans, MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough, by all accounts from a civil disobedience standpoint the day was a success and the rest of the MSNBC crew – the Reverend Al Sharpton, Rachel Maddow, Chris Matthews, Ed Schultz, and Larry O’Donnell – did the day proud. This aspect did not occur without a lot of strategic planning and alliances so I want to give all those participating a shout out. I was privileged to spend much time on phone conferences ahead of time with my good friend Paul Stevenson, who has been engaged in civil disobedience law for over 2 decades, Randy Behrmann, along with members of the National Lawyers Guild, UAW, SEIU, Justice Caucus, Criminal Defense Attorneys of Michigan and the Michigan Association for Justice, with a goal of no one getting hurt and no one staying overnight in jail. We did it. Special recognition goes to Ingham County Prosecutor Stuart Dunnings III for his cooperation and availability as well as all those involved with the police forces and Ingham County Sheriff’s Department under the leadership of Sheriff Gene Wrigglesworth. Thank you Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer for being our voice, here in Michigan and nationally.
In closing, I would like to quote one of my mentors, the late Harry M. Philo (1924 – 2012):
“The law is never settled until it is settled right; it is never right until it is just; and it is never just until it serves society to the fullest.”
Let’s work hard, from today until the 2014 election, to make this happen with your vote.
recently named in the 2009 edition of Best Lawyer's In America, David Mittleman has been representing seriously injured people since 1985. A partner with Church Wyble PC—a division of Grewal Law PLLC—Mr. Mittleman and his partners focus on medical malpractice, wrongful death, car accidents, slip and falls, nursing home injury, pharmacy/pharmacist negligence and disability claims.