Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R) announced during a press conference on Tuesday afternoon that he had privately signed into law so-called “right-to-work” legislation, despite mass protests from unions. The measure would allow public and private union members to opt out of paying union dues, while benefiting from union contracts. It does not apply to existing union contracts.
Snyder attributed his sudden (and unexpected) push for the measure earlier last week to unions themselves, who unsuccessfully sought to pass a constitutional amendment (known as Proposition 2) voiding “existing and future laws restricting workers’ ability to organize unions, or to negotiate and enforce collective bargaining agreements, including employees’ financial support of their labor unions.” The governor argued that this failed effort divided the public and brought the issue to a head.
“I don’t believe we wouldn’t be standing here in this timeframe if it hadn’t been for Proposition 2 moving ahead,” Snyder said. “If you look at what clearly happened after the election, there was an extreme escalation in discussions on right-to-work that was very divisive. And so the divisiveness was there. And my view is, since it’s here, let’s step up, take some leadership, take a position and get an answer.” Union leaders and Democratic lawmakers, however, were surprised and caught off guard by Snyder’s sudden push for legislation, though the move that was supported by the Koch-funded Americans For Prosperity.
Challenged by a reporter as to why he signed the right-to-work legislation behind closed doors, Snyder again faulted union organizers. “It’s one of those things, there were a number of people out protesting. So I don’t see the need to have a public ceremony to over-emphasize that.”
Michigan voters may now seek to repeal the bill through a state ballot initiative.