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MLive moralizes behavior in Right to Work onslaught

December 14, 2012

Yesterday, MLive posted a piece from their editorial board entitled, Right to work in Michigan: Gov. Snyder, unions and lawmakers all disappoint with their behavior this week.

The editorial begins with this comment:sign

Right-to-work laws may or may not end up helping Michigan, but no one should be pleased with what happened in Lansing this week.

First off, the so-called neutral take on Right to Work by the MLive editorial board is ridiculous and it is bad journalism. Of course the Right to Work law will help Michigan, if by Michigan you mean the corporations and rich like the DeVos family, then yes, it will help. However, if you define Michigan by the majority of those who live here, working class people, then no, it will not help.

Then there is the moralizing comment about how none of us should be pleased this week by what happened in Lansing, which is the essence of the editorial piece.

The article then goes on to make the case that Gov. Snyder, the unions and State Representatives all engaged in behavior that we should be repulsed by.

First, the editorial talks about Snyder and how he said Right to Work wasn’t part of his agenda for the first two years and then, boom, he decides to sign it into law. This is a misreading of Snyder and the policies he has put forth.

From day one Snyder has been implementing neoliberal austerity policies – attacking public sector workers, their benefits & pensions, downsizing the public sector workforce, eliminating business tax, deregulation and the Emergency Management Law. Right to Work completely fits into this neoliberal

An example of MLive’s misreading of Snyder is a September article by their business reporter, claiming that Right to Work is a thorn in the side of Snyder. We deconstructed this story and pointed out the following:

What I think Gov. Snyder is doing by not taking a strong pro Right to Work stance is buying time. The unions in Michigan have countered the Right to Work possibility by pushing forward a November Ballot Initiative, the Project Our Jobs campaign. If that initiative passes in November, there will be a serious legal battle to overturn it. If it doesn’t pass, Michigan legislators who have aggressively advocated for Michigan to adopt Right to Work legislation will no doubt move forward with proposing such legislation, which means it will then come to Snyder to be signed into law. If Snyder was really against such legislation he would make it clear by stating publicly that he would veto such legislation if it passed in the legislature. He has not done so to date.

Therefore, it is safe to say that Snyder did not behave poorly, he did exactly what he has been doing all along……….making decisions and supporting policy that benefits the capitalist class.

The MLive editorial also goes after State Representatives, because of comments they made, both Republicans and Democrats, which is really quite relevant. Instead, what we should be looking at is how they voted on the Right to Work legislation. MLive doesn’t seem to be interested in publishing that list. I don’t think most people care what elected officials say, they care about what they do and how they vote.

Lastly, Mlive goes after unions members by stating:Picture 1

If union opponents were hoping to portray organized labor as unruly, they got the images they were hoping for, as an angry group tore down a tent, state police stood in riot gear and Teamsters leader Jimmy Hoffa in a television interview promised “a civil war.” There are ways to passionately debate legislative activity without resorting to actions that cast an unflattering light on union members across the state to a national audience.

Wow. First, there is plenty of information that disputes what happened with the whole “tent destruction incident.” More importantly, the editorial writer doesn’t seem to know much about union history. Union workers have been brutalized, arrested, deported, detained and murdered over the past 150 years in the US when attempting to organize or fight for their rights. During that history, many union members have fought back, often with force, because their rights were being threaten or their lives were being threatened.

This particularly moralizing is just part of the West Michigan ethic of “nice.” In times like these, we don’t need to be nice, we need to be angry and we need to fight back. Personally, I was disappointed that the more union members did not join those of us inside and occupy the state capitol, even if it was by force. The state certainly used force by having hundreds of cops, many in riot gear, to harass, intimidate, beat and pepper spray anyone they thought was not compliant enough.

However, that behavior wasn’t addressed in the MLive editorial. Instead, the public is being preached to by MLive about how we should behave. They want us to be nice and compliant, even while we are being brutalized by policies that will create more poverty in Michigan. When Unions are under attack, we need to fight back!

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