Michigan union supporters to protest in record numbers

(CBS News) Protesters are expected to turn out in droves at Michigan's state capitol on Tuesday, to continue their spirited defense of one of the biggest union strongholds in the U.S.

The protests are in responce to Michigan's proposed right-to-work legislation, which would make it illegal to force workers to join unions or pay dues. Republican lawmakers in Michigan broadly support the measure, and pushed it through last week without any debate, sparking widespread outrage.

President Obama weighed in on Monday, telling employees at Daimler's Detroir Diesel in Redford, Mich., that the "so-called right-to-work laws ... don't have anything to do with economics. They have everything to do with politics."

Advocates claim the measure is about attracting manufacturers and jobs as well as creating competition within unions, which they claim would lead to better customer service to members. But critics, primarily Democrats, disparage the law as a deceptive attempt to weaken unions.

Republican Governor Rick Snyder is a reluctant supporter of the legislation. "I'm not happy about being in this situation but given it's here I'm going to do what's best for the citizens of Michigan, my customers," he said on Monday.

One protester told CBS News' Elaine Quijano, "It's not about ... more jobs. This legislation is trying to reduce the middle class even further."

Twenty-three other states currently have right-work laws in place, primarily in the South and the West and two other states, Wisconsin and Indiana, have seen similar union battles in recent months. Michigan remains one of the most heavily unionized states -- 17.5 percent of Michigan workers are union members. 

Comments

Follow Us

Watch CBSN Live

Watch CBS News anytime, anywhere with the new 24/7 digital news network. Stream CBSN live or on demand for FREE on your TV, computer, tablet, or smartphone.

The Newsroom