Rick Snyder Didn't Want to Sign Right-to-Work Legislation Until He Signed It

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Dec. 11 2012 6:14 PM

Rick Snyder Didn't Want to Sign Right-to-Work Legislation Until He Signed It

The easiest way to explain the surprise of Gov. Rick Snyder's move on right-to-work? A brief history of his right-to-work skepticism.

David Weigel David Weigel

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. You can reach him at daveweigel@gmail.com, or tweet at him @daveweigel.

How 'bout right-to-work, a surefire way to galvanize labor support against whoever backs it? "A divisive issue. Union is not a lens I use."

- The Detroit News, July 30, 2009

Someone else asked if Snyder supported Michigan becoming a so-called right to work state, where individuals can opt out of joining a worker's union. Snyder said the issue was a divisive one that's not on his agenda. Instead, he said, the state needs to examine the compensation it pays public employees and bring it in line with jobs in the private sector.

- Battle Creek Enquirer, June 9, 2010

When asked about whether he supported right-to-work legislation, which would allow employees to opt in or out of union membership, he said it wasn't a priority because it was too divisive an issue in difficult economic times.

- Detroit Free Press, August 18, 2010

Don't look for the new governor to immediately firebomb the existing structure. Neither Snyder nor Bernero proposes dismantling the MEDC. Nor will either push a divisive fight to make Michigan a right-to-work state as a way to combat negative perceptions of the labor climate here.

- Detroit Free Press, September 10, 2010

When it came to other business issues, such as a right-to-work law for Michigan that some West Michigan business leaders have been promoting for two years now, Bernero and Snyder agreed in their opposition. Snyder said it would "create a divisive atmosphere that would prevent too many good things from happening.

- The Grand Rapids Press, September 18, 2010

Mr. Snyder is a bridge builder. He refuses, for instance, to enter the fight over a controversial right-to-work law, recognizing that the fissures such a proposal uncovers are not worth the potential benefits.

- The Grand Rapids Press, September 26, 2010

Snyder has ruffled conservatives with his stands allowing rape and incest victims to have abortions, and favoring stem cell research. He opposes gay marriage, but will allow civil unions. He says a Right to Work law isn't worth arguing about.

- NPR, October 22, 2010

In Michigan, Republican House Speaker Jase Bolger has been leaning toward supporting a right to work measure, but Republican Gov. Rick Snyder has said he wants no part of it.

- The Associated Press, April 6, 2011

Snyder did not address right-to-work in his presentation but told members of the news media afterward "it is not on my agenda" because it is "divisive."

- Grand Rapids Business Journal, September 17, 2012

The news of the signing was a bit of a surprise, and relayed rather matter-of-factly by the governor. He said he saw how divisive the issue was and noted the large crowds of protestors outside the Capitol, saying he didn’t see a need for a public signing or ceremony. Instead he said it was just time take a position and move forward.
“I don’t view this as anti-labor. I view this as pro-worker,” Snyder said.

- The Detroit Free Press, today

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. You can reach him at daveweigel@gmail.com, or tweet at him @daveweigel.