Politics

Snyder: Right-to-work will bring jobs, business to Mich.

Snyder: Right-to-work will bring jobs, business to Mich.

Michigan’s new right-to-work law will attract new business and new jobs to the economically-strapped state, says the governor who signed the landmark measure into law.

Less than a day after he signed legislation making the longtime Big Labor bastion of Michigan the 24th state to make union dues voluntary, Republican Gov. Rick Snyder predicted to Human Events that business and opportunity will follow. He pointed to the neighboring state of Indiana and what has been happening there since a similar right-to-work law was signed by fellow GOP Gov. Mitch Daniels earlier this year.

“All you have to do is look at what happened in Indiana,” Snyder told us, citing data from the Indiana Economic Development Corporation. “If you look at what happened in February (when right-to-work took effect), they have cited more than 90 companies that have cited this as one of the factors for coming to Indiana and, I believe, 31 (of these companies) that have actually made offers to come to Indiana, bringing thousands of new jobs,” Snyder said.

Noting that Michigan borders Indiana and has a larger population, he said, “if anything, we’ll get even more than Indiana.”

“So it’s exciting. Not only is it about more and better jobs, but it’s also an important philosophical point. It’s pro-worker, giving workers the freedom to choose.” Gov. Snyder, in fact, prefers the term “freedom to choose” over “right-to-work” to describe the newly signed law.

Snyder also looked back at his state’s economy over the past ten years, eight of which (2002—2010) his state had liberal Democrat and union ally Jennifer Granholm as governor.

“Without right-to-work, Michigan was a state that had significant decreases in per capita income,” he told us. “We had a terrible last decade. We were ranked 16th in per capita income in 2000 and we dropped to 36th in 2010. That’s a massive drop. The good part is, since 2011 (when Snyder took office), we’ve been heading back up. Now, federal figures say we were the 8th fastest growing per capita income growing (state) economy in the nation last year.”

Big Labor over reach started right-to-work

Contrary to many published reports, Snyder added, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s nationally-watched and successful fight to curb pensions and health care benefits for certain state employees was not the influence for the push for right to work in Michigan.

“That’s a separate issue,” said Snyder, “he actually addressed collective bargaining, as (Gov. John Kasich) did in Ohio. Our issue in Michigan was not between an employer and a union. Ours was different. We actually addressed a separate issue. Right-to-work, or freedom to choose, which I think is a better term, is between the worker and the union. And we were pro-worker, which is a good place to be.”

Why, we asked, did Snyder seemingly change his tune from his winning campaign in 2010, when he said he would not push right-to-work?

“Two factors,” the governor said. “The labor leaders in our state decided to move on what became Proposal Two. They called it the ‘collective bargaining amendment’ [to enshrine collective bargaining in the state constitution]. Basically, it was a massive overreach into our state constitution. During the summer, I put out a statement saying ‘Please don’t go ahead with this. You’re going to create a very divisive environment.’”

Proposal Two was resoundingly defeated and, in Snyder’s word, “discussion of right to work took off. It reached a tremendous proportion and took off.”

The other factor, Snyder said, “was Indiana. As I said, Indiana was getting a lot of jobs because it’s a right to work state. So we thought it was the right time to move on this.”

Snyder explained that “this legislation doesn’t impact on any current existing contract. When present contracts are renewed, they won’t be able to add a provision in the contract that workers are forced to make payment to unions. Workers will have freedom to choose, and that will happen with contract renewal.”

The new law also does not include police and firefighters because, as Snyder pointed out, “we have historically treated police and firefighters differently because of the nature of their work … we actually had Public Act 312 that didn’t allow them to strike and sort of enforce binding arbitration because of the dangerous nature of the work they do.”

Is Detroit Snyder’s next big crisis?

The governor feels the new “freedom to choose” law could help economically moribund Detroit just as it could help any other city in Michigan. But the Motor City, he quickly added, “has its own serious issues and the city government has yet to address financial issues it hasn’t yet addressed.

“Just this week, we started the clock on the 30 day review (of Detroit). What could happen is, after 30 days, if Detroit is still in emergency financial situation, I can ask for an emergency manager (who would have the last word on financial decisions, essentially over-riding the authority of the mayor and city council).

“This has never been done with a city the size of Detroit, although it has been done in eight out of 2,500 jurisdictions in Michigan. It is a tool we have used in some situations. Some started before my administration, but we have added and gotten to that total.”

With all the national attention Gov. Rick Snyder has gained from the right-to-work measure and all that he might gain in a tenuous clash over the future of Detroit, Human Evens asked, what does he think of early talk that he might make a bid for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016?

“Tell the people who said that I’m happy being governor,” said Snyder with a laugh,” but I appreciate those kind thoughts.”

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