Michigan lawmaker slams Republicans in emotional labor rights speech
Michigan Senate Democratic Leader Gretchen Whitmer on Thursday blasted Republicans for pushing “right to work” legislation through the state legislature.
The bill would prohibit unionized workplaces from requiring workers to contribute money to the union. The Michigan AFL-CIO has dubbed the legislation the “Freedom to Freeload bill” because it allows workers to benefit from collective bargaining agreements without being paying members of the union.
“You must be kind of embarrassed right now,” Whitmer said on the Senate floor. “Your floor leader doesn’t know the rules and your leader doesn’t even want his name on this bill. Well I have a simple question: Why are we here today?”
She noted the progress the labor movement had achieved over the last century, providing American workers with maternity benefits and other working conditions that most people now took for granted.
“Lets be clear, this legislation is petty and vindictive politics at its most disgusting,” Whitmer continued. “You began this two year session by attacking workers and their families with your emergency managers legislation that raised the ire of people around the state and brought thousands of protesters here to Lansing. And now for one of your final pieces of business in this legislative calendar, you want to pass ‘right to work’ legislation that hurts workers and our economy by lowering employee wages, benefits, and workplace protection. Another bow to big business and wealthy special interests at the cost of our people.”
Police officers pepper-sprayed pro-union protesters earlier in the day after Republican Speaker Jase Bolger and Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville closed the state Capitol.
Watch video, uploaded to YouTube by Michigan Democrats, below: