Wednesday's New York Times's front page featured Monica Davey's latest dispatch from Lansing, after the Michigan legislature passed and the governor signed right-to-work legislation that would forbid unions to coerce membership dues from workers in the traditionally union-dominated state.
Davey's reporting has been consistently negative about the pro right-to-work side, and Wednesday's "Limits On Unions Pass In Michigan, Once A Mainstay" was no different. Avoiding the mob violence on the part of the union protesters, she noted neutrally that "Democrats and labor leaders vowing retribution at the ballot box and beyond" (what, exactly, does "and beyond" entail?).
Her initial report mentioned school closings on Tuesday, hardly beneficial for the children liberals claim to support, but that detail didn't make it into the print version. She also failed to mention the violence by union protesters directed against political commentator Steven Crowder.
Again, Davey wrote from the angle of the union protesters, not the majority who actually won the legislative fight. She noted neutrally that "Democrats and labor leaders vowing retribution at the ballot box and beyond." She quoted five sources from the losing side (seven if you count the "shame, shame," and "no justice, no peace" chants from the union protesters) compared to three from the victors.
With Democrats and labor leaders vowing retribution at the ballot box and beyond, the Republican-dominated Michigan Legislature on Tuesday approved sweeping, statewide changes to the way unions will be financed, substantially reducing their power in a state that has long been a symbol of union might and an incubator for the American labor movement.
As thousands of incensed union members filled the Capitol rotunda and poured out onto its lawn chanting “shame, shame,” labor leaders and Democrats said they would immediately mount an intense, unceasing campaign to regain control of the Legislature and the governor’s office by 2015.
But advocates of the legislation, which outlaws requirements that workers pay fees to unions as a condition of employment, lauded the day as a historic turning point for economic health in Michigan, and some Republicans predicted that their victory here would embolden other states to enact similar measures.
The legislation, which Gov. Rick Snyder, a Republican, signed almost immediately, is the latest in series of setbacks to organized labor in states where it has traditionally been strong, like Indiana and Wisconsin. National labor leaders predicted a backlash and said they were weighing options in the courts and in future elections.
“We are not going to end it today,” said Lee Saunders, the president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. “We will be in the streets,” he said, adding, “If we have to work it through 2014 and change the makeup of the legislatures, that’s what we’ll do.”
Davey brushed past the union's mob violence.
By evening, two large canopies belonging to the opposing camps lay crumpled on the Capitol lawn, the police said. At least two people were arrested, they said, after trying to press past one of the large clusters of state troopers that stood guard at the George W. Romney Building, which houses the governor’s office. And at least one police officer had used a substance similar to pepper spray during the protests.
Mr. Snyder signed the bills without fanfare on Tuesday afternoon, alerting reporters of it after the fact. “There were a number of people out protesting, so I don’t see the need to have a public signing ceremony to overemphasize that,” Mr. Snyder said, insisting that the moves were not “anti-union.” “Because this isn’t about us versus them. This is about us being Michiganders and trying to work together.”
To some, including those carrying signs on the lawn and chanting “no justice, no peace” inside the Capitol rotunda, that seemed doubtful anytime soon.