Why Right To Work Michigan? Why Right Now?

Michigan’s new right-to-work law was a surprise to everyone. Submitted on Thursday just before lunch, it went through the state legislature without any debate, or discussion, and was signed by the governor in record time. It came so fast that the actual terms of the legislation are not even fully understood. But the speed of this one must ask, why is this particular legislation being pushed right now in the first place?

A few reasons it turns out. When the Michigan legislature reconvenes in January, Governor Snyder will no longer have the votes needed to pass the measure. The margin for this bill was very small, less than 10 votes, and 11 votes would flip in the new legislative session. So, it had to pass now or not at all.

Governor Snyder is planning on using this legislation in the same manner in which Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels attempted to claim that right to work added jobs, citing that the MBC Group was an out-of-state company moving in to the state, when in fact MBC Group is a native Indiana firm, and that the location cited by the governor as being driven by right-to-work was in fact opened a full year before Indiana passed right to work.

A handy jar of snake oil. But what kind of snake oil is Governor Snyder planning on selling?

With the Bush tax cuts due to expire, the incentive of businesses to horde money will be reduced dramatically, which will cause them to invest in their businesses, particularly for certain industries such as the automotive industry. Which means next year we can expect incredible growth and profits from the big three auto makers. A heavily unionized industry, right to work legislation passed just before a new tax environment will give these companies a boost to their bottom line, and Governor Snyder waiting in the wings to hold them up as a “right to work success story.” Of course, they will be getting these profits anyways, but Snyder is hoping to jump in front of the parade and appear to be the master of ceremonies.

The other side of the coin is that the move will hurt Union fundraising in Michigan. Governor Snyder knows that he is very disliked in his state, so he is trying to eliminate his opposition during this very narrow window he has before the new legislature makes this move impossible. He knows the Unions will target him, so he aims to hurt their ability to operate in 2014 by any means possible.

Had he made this move before the November elections, he would have had his party massacred at the polls and any legislation he did get passed would be overturned by the new legislation. This meant that he had to push it off to this very narrow window, after the November elections but before the new legislature took office, the lame duck session. And so he played his cards perfectly for this.

In the end, Governor Rick Snyder knows he cannot win in a fair election. He knows he is hated by the people of his state, and that he is in for a tough re-election bid. He is doing every trick possible to try and squeak out a victory in 2014. Every group he has targeted will be gunning for him, and he aims to disarm them now.