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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“It’s disgraceful,” said Sue Brown, who said she’s not a union member but fears right-to-work laws would lower wages for all. “The unions and the UAW have created the middle class.”…

For all the shouting, the actual benefit or harm of such laws is not clear. Each camp has pointed to studies bolstering their claims, but one labor expert said the conclusions are inconclusive.

“Very little is actually known about the impact of right-to-work laws,” Gary Chaison, a professor of labor relations at Clark University in Massachusetts, said Monday. “There’s a lot of assumptions that they create or destroy jobs, but the correlation is not definite.”

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“Michigan is making this move because it saw Indiana do it,” said Robert Sikkel, a labor expert in Grand Rapids, Mich. “They’re afraid businesses may move to Indiana. Other states are going to look at this too to see if it’s best for them.”

Though right to work laws have been around since the 1947 Taft-Hartley Act, the movement has been growing since Wisconsin fought a similar battle with unions over two years ago.

“More and more states are looking to improve their economies and become more attractive to businesses and this is seen as one step toward that,” Sikkel said.

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Of course, the move is not just economic. It’s political, too. Democrats depend on millions — actually, billions — of dollars in support from the forced dues of union members. If that money supply were to dry up, or even just decrease, the Democratic Party would be in serious trouble.

Which is why President Obama just happened to discuss the situation during his campaign-style visit to the Daimler Detroit Diesel Plant in Redford, Mich., on Monday. “These so-called right-to-work laws don’t have anything to do with economics — they have everything to do with politics,” Obama said. “What they’re really talking about is giving you the right to work for less money.”…

For the right-to-work forces, what is happening in Michigan, like what happened in Wisconsin and Indiana before it, is the result of years of work against the system of union power and mandatory dues. It was a long time coming. “People always say this is a really tough battle, you can’t win,” says Mark Mix. Like the Berlin Wall, Mix says, the entrenched union structure sometimes looked unassailable. “Then one morning we woke up and guess what? We found out it wasn’t nearly as strong as we thought.”

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It’s a tough choice, and I sympathize with the unions, but the fact is that in the global economy where you have to compete on wages and other elements, of the units of production, you can you either have, you know, high wages with low employment or you can, as Obama would say, spread around the wealth.

The fact is that in the right-to-work states, unemployment is 6.9%. And in the other stays the non-right-to-work, it’s 8.7. So you can choose to have fewer workers who enjoy higher, inflated, unnatural, if you like, wages, uncompetitive wages. Or you can have competitive wages and more people employed, more people with the dignity of a job and less unemployment, more taxation and more activity. I think it’s it the right choice but I understand how it’s a wrenching choice.

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Via Legal Insurrection.

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“I literally believe, Sean, that if I had defended myself at all, even flicked a small little jab, that they would have killed me where I stood. I have never seen this kind of angry, vitriolic hatred… I expected these people to actually tear me limb from limb. I knew I couldn’t take that.”