Republicans control the Michigan state legislature. It was the perfect opportunity to push through laws limiting union power and labor rights for public-sector workers. So, they did. Michigan is now the 24th state out of 50 designated as a "right-to-work" state.
For critics, this act translates into a "right-to-fire-and-treat-workers-anyway-we-want" law. Critics will also know that Republicans and their fat cat constituents are no doubt all smiles with today's action in the House of Representatives, a push they began last week in the Senate.
The BBC quoted Republican state senator John Proos in a story: "As they say in sports, the atmosphere in the locker room gets a lot better when the team's winning." Republicans like to talk about teams. Proos means his team: Republicans, corporations, the wealthy, the privileged, the well-connected -- the people for whom the words plenty and cornucopia were coined.
As for everyday people, police say 12,000 protesters showed up at the state capitol, despite freezing temperatures. Inside, people chanted, "Shame on you." One protester, Valerie Constance, a member of the American Federation of Teachers, said, "I do think this is a very sad day in Michigan history."
John Proos, who backed the bill, say he's certain public anger will fade away, especially when people see all the new jobs brought to Michigan. Opponents of the bill say the change will lead to lower wages.