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. Steve- Illinois

    "Threatening democracy" as the unions push to do away with secret ballot voting. Hoffa has more faces than Mt Rushmore!

    December 11, 2012 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  2. Amazing

    I never thought I would live to see MICHIGAN become a right to work state....absolutely stunning. Losing Michigan is the death knell for the old school labor movement. Unions have to evolve to survive. The coming budget issues will eventually destroy the public employee unions, too.

    December 11, 2012 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  3. Le

    Hoffa and his thug buddies please go ahead. We are already seeing their stripes today and its disgusting. Funny how these liberals seems to be against a persons right to choose whether to participate in funding the union. This will be great deal for the state and they can join the other half of the country in advancing prosperity.

    December 11, 2012 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  4. DumbasRocks [R]s

    To those people who are bad-mouthing unions: I did not know that modern humans could be so utterly stupid.

    December 11, 2012 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  5. Sniffit

    "Unions are obsolete...period."

    That makes as much sense as bulding a dam and saying "it's now obsolete" one it has stopped flooding on the dry side.

    December 11, 2012 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  6. jkane sfl gop mascots the blubbering slobs allen west rover nitwitquest rick scott ,carl rove and donald dump ??????

    The gop represents about 10% of the people in the whole country and if you want a job for minimum wage with no benifits ,vote for the gop or move to China ,Mexico or India or somila , morons !!!!!

    December 11, 2012 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  7. California Gary

    Do you enjoy a wage at or above the minimum wage? Thank the unions. Do you get overtime after 8 hours? Thank the unions. Do you get paid vacation time? Thank the unions. Do you get sick leave? Thank the unions. Do you get weekends and holidays off? Thank the unions. Do you have protection from harrassment in the workplace? Thank the unions. What........you thought all those things were provided to you out of the goodness of your employers heart? Those who would cheer the demise of the unions can look forward to going back to the conditions that caused people to unionize in the first place. It was not a great place to be.......

    December 11, 2012 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  8. don in albuquerque

    New Mexico is a Right To Work State. Also one of the poorest states in the Union. Extremely low salaries, extremely high housing cost......yes, I think you will enjoy working for Wal-Mart or McDonalds.

    December 11, 2012 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  9. Willie Floyd

    When properly managed, unions can be very beneficial. All are not what some are calling them.

    December 11, 2012 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  10. WiredweirdinSF

    Is this the same Hoffa who earlier this year threatened to kill all the TEA Party supporters? I watch the union thugs assulting those who disagree with them, no civil sane dicsussion at all with that bunch and I never saw a group of union workers work so effectively and efficiently as they did when they tore down that tent and destroyed someone elses property. All in the name of preventing working people from having a choice if they want to belong to a corrupt union.

    December 11, 2012 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  11. Curt

    Those that do not want to join the union should not be able to accept the wages and other benefits the union members negotiate for. Thats fair. Personally I think this is a step backwards. Unions were formed to stop the workers from being exploited. Now the rich can get richer because they won't have to pay decent wages and benefits. Maybe those who are against the unions should take a look back in history and see how employees were treated and are still treated in non-union businesses. I'am not saying unions in some cases have not gone too far, but the alternative is a dismal thought. Does Le ( above ) think non-union people should reap the benefits the union fought for without paying union dues ?

    December 11, 2012 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  12. Randy, San Francisco

    The GOP/Tea Party class warfare against the working poor and middle classes started with an all out attack against unions, just before Christmas. What a bunch of sour scrooges!

    December 11, 2012 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  13. Sniffit

    "When the communist party took over in Russia, and the Soviet Union was created, one of the first freedoms to get taken from the people was the right to form and belong to any labor union at all"

    I hate to say it, but it's true: destroying organized labor was also one of Hitler's first moves.

    December 11, 2012 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  14. Anonymous

    "I never thought I would live to see MICHIGAN become a right to work state"

    Nor did I. China, here they come ... 2.00$/hr jobs and all.
    Michigan deserves each and every point by point
    financial fallout coming their way. This is not a good
    time for Boehner to be demanding spending cuts. Once
    pubs get done stripping workers and throwing 'em in
    the recycle bin MOST of America will be on welfare.
    Or working in the "company" store cashing in their

    December 11, 2012 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  15. Amazing

    Just saw thew video of the union guy throwing a punch at the man advocating right to work. Strangely, it is a metaphor for many of the issues that are crushing the unions:

    1) The union guy was dumb enough to throw the first punch at the non-union guy while the camera was rolling. This hurts the union in the public relations war that will follow.

    2) The right to work guy was smart enough to have his hands up near his face to block a punch from an aggressor. The union guys were standing straight up with their chins poked out giving their opponent a perfect shot to knock them out with a hook. Jeez, the poor unions can even get good "thugs" to show up at their riots. It is no wonder the unions are becoming extinct.

    December 11, 2012 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  16. DumbasRocks [R]s

    If the unions are so very bad for American democracy then: (1) why did the soviet union ban them in its march to monolithic power over its people; and (2) why did MacArthur, as one of his very first moves as governor of Japan after WWII, reinstate unions along with free elections?

    Sniffit has it exactly right: rightwing morons look up at the dam from the dry side and senselessly screech about the cost of it and how it is no longer needed because the ground they now stand on is perfectly dry.

    The level of stupidity that it tales to mindlessly parrot the false, dogma-driven fairytales your media lords feed you is quite mind-boggling, and also quite unpatriotic.

    December 11, 2012 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  17. EDC

    Take a look at the current roster of right-to-work states and after reviewing the facts the only conclusion one can arrive at is right-to-work benefits corporations and demeans workers. The president was correct in saying that right-to-work means you have the right to work for less. This has been the only outcome of right to work legislation in other states. The old paradigm used to be that General Motors was the largest corporation in the world. They were unionzed and paid a good union wage that moved millions into the middle class. If you worked at GM you earned enough money to buy GM products. Now the largest corporation in the world in Wal-Mart, non-union and non-union wages. The only place you can afford to buy products now is Wal-Mart. Congratulations conservative morons for bringing about the end of the middle class in America. Fools one and all.

    December 11, 2012 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  18. Sniffit

    "Once pubs get done stripping workers and throwing 'em in the recycle bin"

    I had to laugh that you made it seem liek the GOP/Teatrolls are environmentally conscientious. I'm pretty sure they plan to throw the middle-class out like a highway diaper torot int he sun next to a skunk carcass.

    December 11, 2012 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  19. SafeJourney

    Keep is up repubs. 2014 is just around the corner and if you continue on this path, the GOP will go the way of the dinosaurs

    December 11, 2012 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  20. rs

    Well, the GOP is the party of class warfare (all for the 2%!). They don't learn. Get beat up in the election, and go FURTHER right. I'll put my money on the American working man.

    December 11, 2012 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  21. Just Saying

    I personally don't think joining a Union should be mandatory to get a job. But, saying that, I don't believe a non-union worker should be afforded the same benefits the Union workers get, because they are not part of the Union. If you want to go it alone, so be it. I beleive everyone should have a choice. But, don't jump on the band wagon when the Union workers get paid holidays and vacations, because they pay for the representation that alotted them those benefits. As always in life, you get what you pay for . . .

    December 11, 2012 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  22. rs

    Arizona is a right to work state. 1 in 4 live on assistance. That's what the GOP just gave Michigan.

    December 11, 2012 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  23. Name

    Michigan need to be right to work state instead of a lock up state time catch up and stop being behind.

    December 12, 2012 07:45 am at 7:45 am |
  24. fiftyfive55

    sad day for working folks both union and non-union

    December 12, 2012 07:49 am at 7:49 am |
  25. Name tim Harper

    It's time for the old to take a seat and let the young rise just like it was done for their genaration. It's time young folks tired,of the same old thing!!!!!

    December 12, 2012 07:54 am at 7:54 am |
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