MARQUETTE - After spending months telling the public right-to-work legislation was not on his agenda, Gov. Rick Snyder said the decision of labor groups to place Proposal 2 on the November ballot was the impetus behind his recent signature of that very same legislation.
"I said it was not on my agenda for a long time and my concern really started getting heightened in the summer time," Snyder said during a conference call with Marquette media Thursday. "I publicly went to the labor and management people in our state, to the labor people in particular, and said, 'Please do not proceed with the ballot petition drive for Proposal 2. If you continue to do this, I have a great concern. We have a good environment now, but you're going to create a very divisive issue.' I was very clear about that."
"They ignored my advice. They went ahead with Proposal 2," Snyder said. "It got voted down badly, and what transpired is the Right to Work discussion became a very divisive discussion."
Gov. Rick Snyder signs several tax and regulatory reform bills into law Thursday. He signed a severance tax package, a law to phase out the personal property tax, and a law changing workplace safety standards. (AP photo)
The legislation makes it illegal for unions to require members to pay dues. Snyder said he felt that, because the right-to-work debate was beginning to heat up in the state, he had to take a stand on the issue.
"Rather than just being a bystander, watching a fight go on in Michigan for an indefinite time period, I'd rather take a position," Snyder said, adding he felt the decision to sign the legislation that made Michigan the 24th right-to-work state was the correct one.
"What I hope people can appreciate, this will bring more jobs to Michigan and give workers more choice," he said. "As we see time pass, unions will still be going in Michigan. Hopefully, they can be even more thoughtful in giving value to workers and that's a win for both the workers and the union
"People may have differences of view on what I did, but compared to the environment of protests and everything going on before this happened, it is calmer today."
Now that the legislation has been signed, Snyder said he's going to concentrate on issues that will help bring the state's legislators back together.
"There's so many common ground things that we can work on that bring so many people together," Snyder said. "We already had two I signed into law yesterday with the Regional Transit Authority and Detroit Lighting Bill. Both of those bills, when we did the press conference, I had Democratic Legislators speak - let alone vote for - the legislation during that difficult time."
The bills create a Detroit lighting authority and a regional transit authority for Oakland, Macomb, Washtenaw and Wayne counties.
He also signed a package of bills Thursday morning that included a slate of bills that will change the ad valorem tax previously placed on mines to a severance tax.
The issue has particular concern for the Upper Peninsula, where most of the state's mining takes place.
"It will encourage more mining," Snyder said. "It will provide more stability and fairer outcomes for local communities and for the state of Michigan in the sense of how the tax works. The old system was a dumb system, to be blunt."
Jackie Stark can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 242.