Columnist: Michigan Democratic Party deserves better leadership than Mark Brewer after Right-to-Work blunder

There’s a great deal to complain about regarding the recently enacted right-to-work laws, particularly the swiftness with which they were passed. There are a few other legitimate issues with the narrowness of the laws. But you’ve got to ask yourself, why didn’t the unions and the Democratic Party see this coming?

After all, the man repeatedly asked them to not force his hand. Governor Rick Snyder did not beg the unions and the Democrats to refrain from pushing ballot initiatives which would enshrine the collective bargaining process into Michigan’s constitution, but he did a good job of making it clear that if they didn’t, he wouldn’t.

Maybe the unions and the Democratic Party did not believe Snyder when he first said that right-to-work legislation was not on his agenda and that he thought RTW and messing around with the constitution were both bad, divisive ideas. Maybe they thought that if they went ahead and tried it anyway, Snyder would “nerd-up”, take the slap in the face, and turn the other cheek. Well, guess who got pimp-slapped …

The one-day, lightening-rod speed with which those three bills zoomed through the house was ugly but impressive, if nothing else. No debate, not committee deliberation, no negotiations with the House minority part – all of which seemingly signaled a “take that!” response to Michigan Democratic Party Chairman Mark Brewer’s most recent failure to get it done.

Seems like every time Brewer fails on a statewide level, he gets more job security. He failed with the affirmative action initiative, he failed with the Benero gubernatorial campaign, he failed with the 2010 Michigan House and Senate elections, he failed with the “three Supremes,” and now he will again keep his job based on yet another promise, two full years from now, to reverse the RTW legislation and the GOP grip on the state legislature. Talk about nine lives. This man secures relevancy with each instance of abject failure.

As a former union official and independent Democrat, I vehemently oppose the RTW legislation as written. As a pragmatist, I understand why Snyder had no choice but to reverse course. The word on the street is that he would have lost a great deal of support during his next gubernatorial or first senatorial campaign. It turns out he is not only nerdy, but smart about it.

After the failure of all the initiatives that would have changed Michigan’s constitution, anyone could have, and someone should have, told Brewer that judgment day was surely coming. Whoever is giving Brewer advice should give him a refund. Someone should also tell Brewer that if all you do is talk to yourself, you will certainly always agree with yourself and excuse yourself, outcomes be damned. The party deserves better leadership.

Greg Murray

Greg Murray is a civil rights activist, former school board president, as well as the vice president and administrative representative for the Senior Accountants, Analysts and Appraiser’s Association, a labor union for city of Detroit workers

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