{{show_title_date || "Unions protest as opposition pushes 'right-to-work' laws, 12/12/12, 7:00 PM ET"}}

Michigan ‘punch’: Will viral video hurt the labor movement?


The labor protests in Michigan took an ugly turn on Tuesday after Fox News contributor Steven Crowder was punched in the face by a union protester. Other video showed demonstrators bringing down a tent housing right-to-work supporters from the Koch-backed Americans for Prosperity.

Video of the incidents quickly went viral, as the Wolverine State—home of the American auto industry –became the 24th right-to-work state, a big loss for unions.

Will such incidents hurt the labor movement? Bill Ballenger, the editor of Inside Michigan Politics and Democratic Michigan State Rep. Doug Geiss weighed in on Wednesday’s Hardball. Ballenger said it was a “miracle” there wasn’t more violence, pointing out that there had only been about three arrests among more than 10,000 protesters.

“You could have expected this, and I don’t think we should be upset,” he said, but admitted such videos could be used politically to hurt the labor movement. “There will be things extracted from confrontations…that can be used by one side or the other as political ammunition. And it probably will be. Is it fair? No it isn’t. But this is American politics, as you know–happens all the time,” said Ballenger.

Geiss agreed, saying, “I don’t think you ever try to take, one, two or three people and try to paint everybody in that union with the same brushstroke. Of course, people will try to do it.”

Host Chris Matthews said the man who punched Crowder should come forward. “If he singles himself out, he won’t represent labor anymore. As long as that picture is just an unidentified member of the labor union, if he is a member of the labor union, it’s going to hurt labor generally,” said Matthews.