Michigan’s Anti-Labor, Anti-Women Week
I imagine the strategy meeting where Michigan Republicans set their political strategy going into the lame duck session went something along these lines: take note of every issue and initiative that voters in the state soundly rejected and pass those bills all over again.
Michigan voters repealed the state’s undemocratic emergency manager law, so Republicans pushed another version through. Despite witnessing their neighboring state Wisconsin’s long slog with Gov. Scott Walker’s extremely unpopular union-busting bill and the fact that the battle energized and organized the Democratic base nation-wide to deliver the electoral walloping that came in November, Michigan Republicans decided to ram through a “right to work” anti-union measure of their own that not only may be impossible to implement, it just guaranteed progressive Democrats won’t back down leading up to the all-important 2014 midterm elections.
Not content to just wage class war on the employment front, Michigan Republicans also passed HB 5711, an anti-choice “super bill” that is considered to be one of the most extreme anti-woman measures in the county. The bill prohibits tele-med prescription of medical abortion, imposes unnecessary regulations designed to close clinics and forces women to undergo “coercion screening” before they can have an abortion.
Taken alone, each bill is its own unique assault on the economic rights of Michiganders. Lined up side-by-side and its an all-out declaration of war.
What’s important here is to see that, from the right’s vantage point, stripping workers of the right to organize is absolutely part and parcel of stripping women of their rights to control their bodies. And both are also seen, by the right, as economic battles. It’s time the left understands this.
In both Wisconsin and Michigan, labor forces came out in strong showing against the anti-union bills, and in that process voiced opposition to the anti-abortion measures, but that’s not quite the same thing as clearly and specifically explaining to the public how these battles are connected. Each bill is a measure to consolidate economic power away from workers. The “right to work” bill does this directly, but so too does the abortion omnibus bill. Without an ability to control fertility and to be trusted with the legal right to make informed decisions about that fertility, women and their families are stripped of the right to control how and when they enter and exit the labor market. Which is, of course, exactly the point.
Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R) will likely enact every one of these measures, which sends the clearest signal of how the right plans to govern in the coming year. For the rest of us, it means our work from 2011-2012 has really just begun.
Photo from CAVE CANEM via flickr.