Hoffa: Michigan Lawmakers 'Betraying Democracy'

By Susan Jones | December 12, 2012 | 11:13 AM EST

Teamsters President James Hoffa with President Obama. Hoffa says Michigan's new right-to-work law will be challenged. (AP Photo)

(CNSNews.com) - James Hoffa, president of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, says Michigan's lame-duck legislature had no business passing laws that make Michigan one of 24 right-to-work states:

"This is just the first round of a battle that will divide this state," Hoffa told CNN on Tuesday. "We're going to have a civil war in this state because this has been passed by a lame-duck legislature by -- really, there is no debate. This was done in five days.

"It's not approved by the people of the state of Michigan. If anything, it should have been on the ballot. This is a monumental decision to make. For it to be done by outgoing senators and congressmen or legislatures is a tremendous mistake. And so what they're doing is basically betraying democracy. If there is any question here, let's put it on the ballot. Let's let the people of Michigan decide what is good for Michigan."

The two bills passed and signed into law on Tuesday allow private workers and many public workers, except for firefighters and police, to opt out of joining a union and paying union dues.

"This is out to discriminate against unions, to make it so people don't want to join unions," Hoffa said.

He said the legislation will be challenged in court and eventually overturned by the people: "We have done this in other states, and we're going to basically get this on the ballot, eventually, within the year and basically vote this thing down again. We can get this thing stopped," he said.

'We've thriving'

According to Hoffa, Michigan is "on its way back."

"We have very low -- unemployment is going down here. We're thriving. The auto industry is back. The state is coming back because of what Barack Obama did. This state has turned the corner right now. We're creating good jobs here with good wages without right-to-work. This is basically a step backward, so we're going to end up like some state where people make $4,500 less than a state that doesn't have right-to- work."

As CNSNews.com has reported, unemployment in Michigan was 9.1 percent in October, down from 9.3 percent in September, but higher than the 8.3 percent in April, the lowest rate thus far for 2012.

There's talk about Detroit, Michigan's largest city, going bankrupt.

And statewide in Michigan, only 32 percent of public-school eighth graders scored grade-level proficient or better in reading, and only 31 percent scored grade-level proficient or better in math, according to the U.S. Education Department.