Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder on 'right-to-work'

Governor Rick Snyder of Michigan speaks during a dedication ceremony of the statue of former President Gerald Ford at the Rotunda of the Capitol May 3, 2011 on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.

Thousands of union members from around the state gather at the State Capitol to protest Michigan Republican Gov. Rick Snyder's proposed budget cuts April 13, 2011 in Lansing, Mich.

Unions in Michigan are facing a new reality. They'll have to convince their members to keep paying dues after Republicans passed a law that makes Michigan a 'right-to-work' state.

Governor Rick Snyder signed the law -- so what effect does he think it will have on the state's economy?

Gov. Snyder is quick to explain why he supports the change. "This is good legislation, for two main reasons," he says. "First and foremost, it's about giving hard-working Michigan workers the freedom to choose to have the resources go to a union or not. Secondly, this is about more and better jobs coming to Michigan."

He cites Indiana as a success story when it comes to 'right-to-work' laws and job creation. That state passed a similar law back in February. "It is very clear that companies are looking at Indiana that previously did not," he points out. "I think that's going to happen here in Michigan."

Opponents of the law say it will reduce union membership and drive wages and benefits down, ultimately hurting the middle class.

"In terms of the wage question," Snyder argues, "this is giving unions an opportunity to be more responsive to workers. The other thing is, most jobs are non-unionized already -- even in Michigan."


About the author

Jeremy Hobson is host of Marketplace Morning Report, where he looks at business news from a global perspective to prepare listeners for the day ahead.

Thousands of union members from around the state gather at the State Capitol to protest Michigan Republican Gov. Rick Snyder's proposed budget cuts April 13, 2011 in Lansing, Mich.

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If your looking for someone to blame, blame the Union workers themselves!!! They should have kept their mouths shut!!! How many of you have run into Union workers who brag about their pay and benefits and then say "I don't do sh--" like they are somehow getting over on somebody? If I had a nickel for every fat, lazy, sack of sh-- I've ever seen jump out on a job and scream "Is this guy Union?"...I'd be a billionaire. Plumbers and electricians are the worst!!! "Skilled" labor my ass!!! Overgrown kids with the mentality of small children. And that includes Teachers, Fire Fighters, and Police Officers as well!!! I love hearing the "we risk our lives everyday" crap!!! 50 years ago, yes. Today, when one of these people actually faces real danger, they let the chips fall where they may and if one of them actually dies in the line of "duty," so much money is payed to the families it is ridiculous!!! Which is it? "Public" workers used to serve others; now they serve themselves.

Speaking as a former member of NATCA - If unions are so beneficial why are they worried about right to work laws. Surely all these folks will join anyway.

The Governor was largely incoherent and repetitious. He is basically pandering to businesses that don't actually exist in Michigan to the detriment of actual citizens of the state. Leave it to a Republican to solve a problem that doesn't exist (high wages): Mission Accomplished.

Jeremy, you were almost breathless in your attempts to trip up the Hon. gov. That was very unbalanced reporting, if that's what you call it...the use of leading questions is very unprofessional and is a poor attempt to put someone on the defense. Marketplace is generally balanced, but this segment surely was not.

Your comments are ignorant to say the least. The Governor was practically incoherent and provided NO statistical evidence to support his pile of crap. He just kept repeating Indiana like the imbecile he is. This reporter should be commend for not simply repeating the same old Republican snake oil sales pitch.

Huzzah! FINALLY - a host who asks the hard questions! Excellent session. Respectful yet pointed. Inadequate weasel answers on the part of elite-serving politicians have never sounded so obvious. How about a follow-up on the correlation between poor economic performance/low wages and right-to-work states? The race to the bottom, fueled by anti-union laws, capital flight, and NAFTA type trade pacts, is directly responsible for widening the inequality gap. We need to place a living wage floor under worker incomes and tether CEO compensation to employee compensation (eg some multiple of entry level wages). As a society we can and should make these determinations rather than pretending a predatory, greed-based market is the best arbiter.

I believe "right to work" goes beyond this union question - it seems to give employers "right to fire" - this does lead to legal age discrimination and really dovetails with this whole Health Care question. I don't believe these issues can be looked at in isolation. Many families are being faced with this today and we want to look the other way. Follow this:
1. Companies create reasons to get rid of senior members. They disguise this all kinds of ways - but the bottom line is they get rid of these senior workers because they are more expensive then younger workers
2. Senior workers find a hard time replacing their job with an equivalent one and frequently are forced to accept a part time or entry level type position just to have employment.
3. the kind of positions they are forced to take frequently do not include health benefits
4. health benefits are frequently (or almost always tied to employment
5. We want to raise the age of medicare
6. Seniors who thought they had adequately planned for retirement suddenly find they live in a system that now requires them to pay for their own health insurance for a 5 to 10 year period at a time when their insurance is most expensive.

We used to be concerned about young folks not being insured because they couldn't afford it. Today there are thousands or hundreds of thousands of 55-65 year olds that are either going without or ruining their retirement because of the above situation. I would almost bet each of you knows someone in this situation. And it is masked in right-to-work!

Hobsons report had all the depth of a People magazine or USA Today article. At least He could have brought up the notion of collective bargaining benefiting the individual.

Speaking as a former Teamster, unions stifle productivity and innovation.


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