Teamsters president warns of brewing ‘civil war’ in Michigan

By Stephen C. Webster
Wednesday, December 12, 2012 12:37 EDT
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Teamsters Union President James Hoffa speaking to CNN. Photo: Screenshot via CNN.com.
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The fight over union rights in Michigan has some peoples’ blood absolutely boiling, and Teamsters Union President James Hoffa is chief among them.

“This is just the first round of a battle that’s going to divide this state,” Hoffa told CNN on Tuesday. “We’re going to have a civil war in this state because this has been passed by a lame duck legislature.”

Michigan, which has been strongly pro-union since the founding of the United Autoworkers Union in 1935, became on Tuesday a so-called “right to work” state, which means workers are not required to pay union dues. Republicans in the statehouse passed the bills this week surrounded by angry protesters outside the Capitol.

“There was no debate,” Hoffa insisted. “This was done in five days, it was not approved by the people of the state of Michigan. If anything, it should have been on the ballot. This was a monumental decision to make and for it to be done by outgoing senators and state legislators is a tremendous mistake. What they are doing here is basically betraying democracy. If there’s any question here, let’s put it on the ballot, let the people of Michigan decide what’s good for Michigan.”

Apart from Michigan, 23 other states have implemented so-called “right to work” laws, which critics often cite as harmful to workers. A recent study by Hofstra University found that the laws typically lead to lower wages and less access to health care — not more jobs, as proponents suggest.

This video is from CNN, broadcast Tuesday, December 11, 2012.

Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster is the senior editor of Raw Story, and is based out of Austin, Texas. He previously worked as the associate editor of The Lone Star Iconoclast in Crawford, Texas, where he covered state politics and the peace movement’s resurgence at the start of the Iraq war. Webster has also contributed to publications such as True/Slant, Austin Monthly, The Dallas Business Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Weekly, The News Connection and others. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenCWebster.
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