Top Michigan Newspaper Turns On Snyder: Slams Governor For Sneaking Through Anti-Union ‘Right-To-Work’ Legislation

Gov. Rick Snyder (R-MI)

The Detroit Free-Press, which endorsed Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R) in his 2010 campaign and has generally supported him since, blasted his decision to ram through a union-busting “right-to-work” law in a lame-duck legislative session. At Snyder’s urging, the state House and Senate each passed versions of the law this week. The editorial board slammed his move as a “failure of leadership” and observed that his “about-face” amounted to a betrayal of Michigan’s voters.

The paper noted that while it “trusted Snyder’s judgment,” that trust “has now been betrayed.” It expressed disappointment on behalf of independents who thought Snyder more independent and visionary “than partisan apparatchiks like Wisconsin’s Scott Walker or Florida’s Rick Scott,” adding:

His insistence that the legislation was designed to promote the interests of unionized workers and “bring Michiganders together” was grotesquely disingenuous; even as he spoke, security personnel were locking down the capital in anticipation of protests by angry unionists.

Snyder’s ostensible rationale for embracing right-to-work legislation — it was, he insisted, a matter of preserving workers’ freedom of association — was equally dishonest.

The real motive of Michigan’s right-to-work champions, as former GOP legislator Bill Ballenger ruefully observed, is “pure greed” — the determination to emasculate, once and for all, the Democratic Party’s most reliable source of financial and organizational support.

While Snyder and the Republicans in the legislature claim “right-to-work” is good for the state’s economy, studies show such legislation can cost workers money. The Economic Policy Institute found that “right-to-work” laws cost all workers, union and otherwise, $1,500 a year in wages and that they make it harder for workers to obtain pensions and health coverage. “If benefits coverage in non-right-to-work states were lowered to the levels of states with these laws, 2 million fewer workers would receive health insurance and 3.8 million fewer workers would receive pensions nationwide,” David Madland and Karla Walter from the Center for American Progress wrote earlier this year.

Earlier this year, Snyder told a U.S. House committee, “Right-to-work is an issue that is a very divisive issue… we have many problems in Michigan that are much more pressing… I don’t believe it is appropriate in Michigan during 2012.”

But Thursday, Snyder announced he had changed his mind and, a day later, both chambers of the Republican-controlled legislature rammed through similar anti-union bills with little debate.