Hoffa predicts 'civil war' in Michigan
December 11th, 2012
03:53 PM ET
10 years ago

Hoffa predicts 'civil war' in Michigan

(CNN) - Jimmy Hoffa, president of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, said Tuesday he expects Michigan unions and lawmakers to break out into "civil war" after the state legislature passed right-to-work bills that would weaken unions' power.

"This is just the first round of a battle that's going to divide this state. We're going to have a civil war," Hoffa said on CNN's "Newsroom."

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The Republican-controlled state House passed two bills that had already been approved by the GOP-dominated state Senate. Gov. Rick Snyder, also a Republican, is poised to sign the bill, which would allow workers at union-represented employers to forgo paying dues.

As thousands of protestors gathered at the state capitol on Tuesday, Hoffa called the legislation a "tremendous mistake" and "a monumental decision to make" by outgoing lawmakers in a lame duck session.

"What they're doing is basically betraying democracy," he told CNN's Brooke Baldwin. "If there's any question here, let's put it on the ballot and let the people of Michigan decide what's good for Michigan."

Proponents of the legislation say it gives workers more freedom, while opponents say a less robust union presence will negatively affect workers’ rights. Hoffa also argued that those who don't pay union dues will be considered "free riders,” as they’re getting the same benefits from union representation without the cost.

Hoffa pointed to Michigan's recovering auto industry, saying the Wolverine State has bounced back from the recession without being a "right to work" state.

"This is basically a step backward," he argued.

- CNNMoney's Tami Luhby contributed to this report.

Filed under: CNNMoney.com • Michigan
soundoff (64 Responses)
  1. mcwsunshine

    rs...check you facts...overall unemployment is considerably lower in right-to-work states than the states that the unions have a choke hold on

    December 12, 2012 08:08 am at 8:08 am |
  2. Scot

    California Gary –
    Ever had your job outsourced? Thank a union.
    Free market economy 101 sport-o.

    December 12, 2012 08:22 am at 8:22 am |
  3. Sequel

    Perhaps if unions (collectively) had not overplayed their hand, it would not have come to this. Unions have done some great things, but they have also become symbols for abusing too much of a good thing.

    December 12, 2012 08:32 am at 8:32 am |
  4. Marc Anderson

    I have been an at will employee for all my life. On my own I have negotiated wages, benefits and working conditions as good and often better then my union friends and comtempories. All in Michigan. I will thank the unions for higher prices, and run away inflation.

    December 12, 2012 08:32 am at 8:32 am |
  5. zaskar

    Civil war approved by Obama !!

    December 12, 2012 08:32 am at 8:32 am |
  6. Tony in Maine

    I've heard every altruistic reason for "right to not pay." But, the real motivation has absolutely nothing to do with saving the worker from those "mean union bosses" and everything to do with union busting and cutting off a big source of support for Democrats. You'd never know that from the reporting this AM. If Pinnochio were true, every right wing media type and a few who pretend to be neutral would be running around with two foot long noses this morning.

    December 12, 2012 08:33 am at 8:33 am |
  7. JD

    The protests look like a bunch of angry white people.

    Unions have created a legal process to keep wealth in their states and away from southern states and minorities.

    An overwhelming benefit has gone to white northerners. Now their little monopoly is falling apart and opportunities can't be locked away from others.

    This is a huge day for economic fairness.

    December 12, 2012 08:38 am at 8:38 am |
  8. pickety fences

    LOL, "right to work for less" versus right to be unemployed. Face it kids, it's a global job market now, Michigan union labor is overpriced and noncompetitive. Period. And what kind of scam was it to force people to pay union dues in order to work somewhere? It should have been made illegal by the Feds as well as by the states. Some MI legislators were clearly in the pockets of union bosses.

    December 12, 2012 08:41 am at 8:41 am |
  9. Randall

    I fail to see how giving people the option of whether to join a union or not is wrong or "un-democratic". I like freedom. Plus, optional membership keeps unions more honest and actually accountable to their members.

    December 12, 2012 08:48 am at 8:48 am |
  10. lahdeedah56

    Woo hoo! Let's hear it for the race to the bottom. Which state will push its middle class closer to poverty the quickest? Which one will abolish minimum wage or the forty-hour work week? How quickly will US labor start to look like China's?

    December 12, 2012 08:51 am at 8:51 am |
  11. Rudy NYC

    I love the right wing argument that says, "What if a person doesn't agree with union's politics and don't want their money furthering that agenda?"

    To that I say, "What if a person doesn't agree with the company's politics and don't want their hard work furthering that agenda?" The short answer is leave and go work someplace else, which also just so happens to be the answer to the right wing's question.

    December 12, 2012 08:52 am at 8:52 am |
  12. Bran

    My step father was a union organizer in Chicago way back when. In the middle to late '60's he was telling union member not to be so greedy during negotiations. His thought process was based on several things. if you go out on strike after so many weeks (I don't remember the length of time) you cannot make up lost wages. His idea was to work with the employer not against him and everyone comes out ahead. A word to the unions... the cost of everything is going up. After a certain point, the employer cannot make a profit unless they cut back benefits and workers. Then the workers loose. Certain benefits are not supportable for the life of the employee.

    December 12, 2012 08:55 am at 8:55 am |
  13. Lynda/Minnesota

    I see that the brothers Koch got to Michigan's state legislators after all. (And folks from the right are complaining Unions are corrupt.) But, I digress. I really only wanted to point out that less wage earnings equal less state revenue; less consumer spending; lower house values; less middle class folks living their American dream; and less educated children.
    Now, where is this scenario already being played out in America? Oh, yeah. Red states throughout the south.

    Hopefully this won't be too harsh of a lesson for all the "living off mom and pop basement CNN bloggers" to learn once they are themselves forced to actually work to pay their own rent, buy their own food, and drive their own cars back and forth from their $7.50 and hour jobs.

    Reality is harsh and it's about to hit Michigan big time. Good luck, Michiganites. I suspect allowing billionaires to think for you isn't going to get you much in the long run. But, I wish you all well nevertheless.

    December 12, 2012 08:56 am at 8:56 am |
  14. scotty

    doesnt "right to work" sound like it benefits workers? it sure does sound that way, that i have a right to work. but it is just the opposite, it allows businesses to fire anyone without having any valid reason. no progressive discipline, no arbitration, nothing. So if your boss wants to give your job to one of his unemployed friends or family members, he tells you your last day is friday, and he is sorry, but Obama caused this. Then the following monday, a bunch of jobs are now available, because the guy who got canned for no reason on friday came back to work with an assault rifle and killed everyone because he was already barely staying above water and he has a sick wife and young kids and a car that doesnt work and his retirement has already went down the tubes thanks to the GOP. makes you wonder why we even bother, let this thing go off the cliff and lets get it over already. if you dont think this train is coming off the tracks regardless of what we do to stop it, you need to go take some basic math classes, as well as a class on the roman empire. its been a nice ride though, thank god i have my ipod. too bad other people dont have anything to eat though......

    December 12, 2012 08:57 am at 8:57 am |
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