On Wednesday, the hosts MSNBC’s Morning Joe laughed off Gov. Rick Snyder’s (R-MI) claims that the state’s recently-enacted right-to-work law could protect and strengthen unions by encouraging them to show more value to workers, interrupting the governor in bewilderment as he explained his argument.
Snyder appeared on the show less than 12 hours after signing two separate bills allowing public and private union members to opt out of paying union dues, while benefiting from union contracts, and defended the controversial measures. He characterized the law as benefiting workers and unions become more valuable.
The answer shocked the Morning Joe crew and led MSNBC contributor Richard Wolffe to interrupt the governor in mid-answer. Even Joe Scarborough grew incredulous and the Washington Post’s Carl Bernstein sighed heavily as Snyder spoke:
SNYDER: I’ve never said that unions are bad for business. And I don’t believe this is actually anti-union. If you look at it, I believe this is pro-worker, because the way I view it is, is workers now have freedom to choose …
WOLFFE: Hang on. Hang on a second. Are you serious? Are you serious? This is not anti-unions? This actually, at its core undermines the ability for unions to organize. So you can make any argument you like, but saying it’s not …
SNYDER: Unions have to be in a position to present a good value proposition… And if they don’t provide value, people shouldn’t be forced to pay for something they don’t see any value in. So again, this should make unions more effective in terms of having to put a value proposition to workers.
SCARBOROUGH: Governor, while I made a similar argument earlier that workers shouldn’t be compelled to have to pay from their salary to a union with whom they disagree, I would not go so far as to say what you’ve just said, which is that this helps unions. I mean, it undermines unions’ ability to stay vibrant, right?
SNYDER: It really leaves it up to the union to decide and innovate as to what their value proposition is….
BERNSTEIN: Come on!
Indeed, economic studies of right-to-work states show that workers tend to receive lower wages and smaller benefits than those in states with stronger unions.