LANSING (WWJ) – Ahead of a historic vote in Lansing on legislation that would make Michigan the nation’s 24th right-to-work state, Governor Rick Snyder told WWJ Newsradio 950 it’s all about freedom of choice for workers and bringing new jobs to the state.
Speaking live on-air Tuesday morning, Snyder said the Senate will pass the legislation and he plans to sign it when it reaches his desk — despite saying for the last two years that right-to-work was not on his agenda.
“I believe it will pass. The house will take up two bills, one for the public sector and one for the private sector, and they should pass those bills today. The bills likely wouldn’t arrive at my desk until the following day,” he said.
The bottom line in passing the legislation, Snyder said, is giving workers the opportunity to join a union and pay any associated dues if they please, instead of forcing workers to pay union dues as a condition for employment. Powerful Michigan unions, including the Michigan Education Association, UAW and AFL-CIO say it’s an attempt to shut down the unions and let big businesses create lower-paying jobs.
But this is Snyder’s position: “The point here is to give workers a choice, it’s their freedom to choose,” he said. “And I encourage unions to be very proactive as to presenting the right value case as to why it’s good to join and when they do, I would expect that people do join… That’s the main point here is worker choice, freedom to choose. It’s good for workers to have a choice. They can decide if they see value or not and should their dollars go to the union or not based on seeing that value.”
Snyder said research shows that right-to-work laws have brought new and better jobs in states where they’re enacted.
“Michigan is not unique in doing this. Twenty-three other states are right-to-work states and they’ve been fast growing, in terms of their economic growth in relationship to other states… If you look at Indiana, Indiana’s had at least 30 companies accept offers from the Indiana Academic Development Corporation since they did this in February that are bringing thousands of good jobs to Indiana. And we could use those jobs here in Michigan,” he said.
And more jobs in Michigan is something Snyder said will benefit all the state’s residents.
“This is about more and better jobs coming to Michigan because a lot of companies do look at this as a major factor in their analysis. We’ll then be more competitive as a state and that’s good for all of us. It’s good for workers and good for unions, because it gives them more of an opportunity to grow themselves,” he said.
The Republican-dominated Legislature rapidly pushed right-to-work legislation through the House and Senate in a single day last week, but Snyder says the issue wasn’t rushed and that the discussion has been very active in terms of citizen involvement.
“Freedom to choose and right-to-work have been out there for a long time. There’s been lots of discussion on it and in the last couple of weeks, you couldn’t go anywhere in Michigan without hearing this discussion just about. So, there’s been lots of time for citizens to contact legislators and share their feelings,” he said.
And many citizens have been sharing their feeling about right-to-work, especially concerning the exemption of police and fire from the law.
“Police and fire, there’s a unique history there and that was part of the research we did, to show that because of the nature of their work, the dangerous nature, it’s important that they have a particular bond. And so, this was one that, just to be on the conservative side of it, we recognize that and so the legislature is really going forward including other areas and not these areas,” said Snyder.
So, if everything goes as Snyder plans, when can citizens expect to see a change?
“Over the course of next year, I think we’ll start seeing a difference in terms of how this works. The legislation itself would take effect probably later in March, assuming it gets signed this week. So, it will move forward but I’m confident we’ll start getting interest from companies looking at Michigan much more seriously in adding us to their list of states to consider when they want to expand,” said Snyder.
Stay with WWJ Newsradio 950 and CBSDetroit.com for continuing coverage on right-to-work.