Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Peaceful protests follow RTW4Less passage; Koch lackeys try to smear protesters; automakers concerned

Passage of right-to-work-for-less bills in Michigan were followed by citizens silently linking arms outside the Capitol, a sit-in under the Rotunda and at the Romney office building and widespread concern that a civil war just started in Michigan.

Tweeted state Rep. Barb Byrum:
People locking arms in silence around the Capitol. Stay calm. The goal is to seize moral high ground & refute union thug label. #NoRTWMI
As the bill made its way to Gov. Rick Snyder's desk, citizens who tried to meet with him were met with locked doors. Protesters sat down on the floor inside the Rotunda holding handmade signs that said "Veto."  Rev. Jesse Jackson went to the sit-in and prayed with them.

Photos from Twitter show another sit-in at the Romney building surrounded by uncertain-looking police officers. We hear they were arrested, or that arrests are imminent. Protests remained peaceful, despite an attempt by the Benedict Arnold Koch brothers-backed Americans for Prosperity to claim union "thugs" tore down their heated tent.

Marcy Wheeler at emptywheel points out that a video showing the tent coming down is another false flag from people linked to the late Andrew Breitbart, a right-wing provocateur:
...witnesses say the Americans for Prosperity people were trying to provoke union members to violence, and witnesses reportedly saw AFP people loosening the ropes on the tents so they would come down. And in spite of the fact the place was crawling with cops (shipped in from around the state) who didn’t do see anything amiss. (Cops are as we speak arresting people engaging in civil disobedience at the Romney Building, where the Governor’s office is.)
Union leaders, lawmakers and the Big 3 automakers are concerned about the disruptive impact the bill would have throughout Michigan.

CBS News reported:
Michigan state Rep. Douglas Geiss said Tuesday that "there will be blood" if the bill goes into law.  
"We are going to undo 100 years of labor relations," Geiss said.
Interestingly, the Big 3 automakers are reported to be concerned about the legislation. Reports the Huffington Post:

...in an interview on MSNBC on Tuesday, (U.S. Rep. John) Dingell's wife, Debbie, said they were "privately and quietly" concerned about the legislation. Debbie is a consultant to the American Automobile Policy Council. 
"The auto industry has made it very clear that they are neutral," she said. "I think privately and quietly, they are very concerned about whether this is divisive, and the timing of this. And they would rather see the governor and others focus on other things. Business has not wanted to be in the middle of this fight." 
Rep. Sander Levin (D-Mich.), later on MSNBC, offered a similar assessment: "When the governor says it's good for business, just ask the executives of the Big Three whether they want the turmoil within the workplace. The answer is, they don't." 
More acts of civil disobedience were planned. Tweeted Eddie Vale (@evale72) at the AFL-CIO:
Working families prepping to sleep outside Snyder's office all night #saveMI #SnyderVille
Sit-in under the Rotunda today.
There were isolated accounts of police using tear gas. One mounted police officer knocked over a protester next to the Capitol.

The Detroit Free Press is reporting police used tear gas on peaceful protesters against RTW4Less outside the Capitol:

On this video, former Rep. Mark Schauer explains how he and a group of peaceful protesters were maced:
We were not endangering the building in any way, but we wanted to make sure -- since the Republicans have not provided any hearings or opportunities for people to speak on these bills -- that they can hear how people really feel... 
People are here to scream and holler and speak and make noise. We're trying to get the attention of Gov. Snyder and the Republican Legislature. Nothing else has worked. It is a peaceful demonstration where people are exercising their First Mendment rights. 
The UAW live feed showed protesters shouting "tear gas!" "tear gas!" and the crowd responding with loud chants of "Shame!" Things calmed down quickly, and the crowd joined in singing anthems such as "Union Maid," and "We Shall Not Be Moved."

It is unclear when Snyder will sign the legislation. Union contracts will not be affected by the bill; it is only when they expire that the right-to-work-for-less laws will apply to them.