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Obama Jumps Headfirst into Fight Over Michigan 'Right-to-Work' Law

December 10th 2012


President Obama on Monday waded into the fight over changing Michigan into a right-to-work state, saying the move was all about politics and about your “rights to bargain for better wages.”

During a visit to a Daimler Detroit Diesel plant in Michigan, Obama signaled the White House will be more active in this labor fight than it was during a similar fight in Wisconsin in 2011. He described the proposed changes in Michigan as being part of a “race to the bottom” that won’t help the economy.

“What we shouldn’t be doing is trying to take away your rights to bargain for better wages,” Obama told a small crowd at the plant. “We don’t want a race to the bottom. We want a race to the top.” Obama said the laws “don’t have to do with economics. They have everything to do with politics."

Republican Gov. Rick Snyder, who greeted Obama in Detroit on Monday, is expected to sign legislation on Tuesday to make Michigan the 24th right-to-work state. The move has angered union workers who protested the legislation in Lansing.

The visit to the Daimler plant, just outside Detroit, came on the same day the company announced a new $100 million investment to produce engines for heavy-duty trucks. The move is expected to continue to add jobs in a state that benefited from Obama’s auto bailout earlier in the administration.

Monday’s trip to Michigan gave Obama another chance to use the bully pulpit to pressure Congress during the "fiscal cliff" negotiations. The visit comes a day after Obama met with Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) in a private meeting to iron out the sticking points.

During his brief speech on Monday, Obama reminded the crowd that they cannot afford to pay an additional average of $2,200 in taxes if lawmakers fail to reach an agreement that prevents current middle-class rates from expiring. “It’s true. Y’all don’t like that,” the president told the crowd.

Amie Parnes writes for The Hill, from where this article is adapted.

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