Sure, lame-duck legislatures are bound to be a bit mad. But the session that just closed in Michigan was one for the ages. Aflush with the flurry of bills sent to the desk of Governor Rick Snyder—not so much speaking to his opinion on their quality—a politics-loving friend of mine in Detroit exclaimed, “It’s like Christmas in … well, in December.”
In Michigan, the birthplace of the labor movement, this week’s abrupt passage of a “right-to-work” law incited the largest protest in Lansing’s history: at least 12,500 people, wearing red, chanting, singing, drumming, committing civil disobedience, and otherwise battling to be heard as lawmakers in a lame-duck session overhauled the state’s labor laws without public input or committee meetings. State house Democrats’ attempts to pass amendments that would, for example, put right-to-work up for a public vote or eliminate the $1 million appropriation seemingly designed so that the law withstands the threat of voter referendum, all failed. That $1 million appropriation is supposed to go toward educating workers and union about life under right-to-work, and, in the budget-strained state, it’s not clear what the source of the money will be.