Discuss as:

Grudge at center of Snyder reversal on 'right-to-work'?


Gov. Rick Snyder intimated on MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell Reports that he would now sign 'right-to-work' legislation, after previously saying it was too “divisive,” because labor leaders defied him earlier this year.

This “goes back to last summer,” the Republican Michigan governor said, adding that Labor was proposing a ballot amendment that he believed went too far.

Proposal 2 would have amended the state constitution to expand union rights and collective bargaining and even override existing state laws that conflict with those agreements.

“I believe in collective bargaining,” Snyder said on Andrea Mitchell Reports. But “this is over the top.”

The proposal made it onto the ballot and failed, 57%-42% in November.

“Voters spoke in November,” Snyder said. Now, “it’s on the table. It’s a hot issue. Let’s show some leadership.”

In 2011, despite Republicans working on right-to-work legislation, Snyder said he didn't think it was "appropriate" and that the state had "higher priorities."

“I don't think it's an appropriate subject for us to be dealing with today, because we have higher priorities that need to be addressed in our state," Snyder told a radio program nearly a year ago to the day, Dec. 12, 2011. He added, "We need to come together as Michiganders and show some solid results on things we can agree on first before we have any discussion along those lines. As a practical matter, the other things I'd mention to you is that we do have to be more competitive, we do have to be more proactive, but I want to see how we can work together. So I'd just as soon work with labor on being proactive."

Snyder's tone has significantly changed. He contended Tuesday on MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell Reports that signing this law is “about being pro-worker.”

He added that since Indiana passed a similar law, “They’ve gotten thousands of jobs. … This is about moving Michigan forward, about more Michigan jobs, and worker choice.”

From Michigan, outside the state capitol, Bob King, president of the United Auto Workers union, responded bluntly.

“Bunch of malarkey, really,” he said, adding, “This has got to be seen as part of a right-wing agenda. … They’re attacking everything that’s good for working families.”

He continued: “That’s baloney. ‘Right-to-work’ lowers wages, lowers benefits; it lowers health care. ‘Right-to-work' is bad for working families.”

There is evidence that wages in right-to-work states are lower. The Detroit Free Press’ Gallagher, for example, wrote: “The data on wages tell a fairly clear story. Of the top 10 states in per capita income in 2011, seven were not right-to work states. Of the bottom 10 states with the lowest per capital income, seven were right to work states.”

Civil rights activist Jesse Jesse Jackson, standing next to King, called for a “major one-day strike” and “march on Washington.”

“These workers have been pushed over the cliff,” Jackson said, adding, “I’m  convinced workers must fight back in measure. … We must fight wholesale.”

He added of Republicans, “They fought to suppress the vote in the Fall; they’re fighting to suppress the wages now.”

Echoing President Obama, Jackson said, “It’s the right to work for less.” And of helping to organize the protests in Michigan, a state long known for its strong unions, “I never thought it would metastasize and go this far North,” Jackson said.

NBC's Kyle Inskeep contributed to this report.