Michigan governor: Right-to-work ‘could be a positive for unions’

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As Michigan’s Republican-led state legislature voted to pass two pieces of “right to work” legislation, Gov. Rick Snyder told msnbc’s Andrea Mitchell  that he still intends to sign the bills when they come to his desk Wednesday. And he framed the measures as a “positive” for the labor movement.

Asked by Mitchell if he was still determined to sign the law, Snyder said, “Yes I am because again, it had reached critical mass in terms of being a divisive issue in our state,” Snyder said.

The law would fundamentally change the relationship between unions and employers: It would stop workplaces from making union membership a condition of employment, and nonunion employees would no longer be required to pay unions to negotiate contracts. Opponet s say it will result in lower wages.

Snyder argued that the law can be pro-union. “I’ve met a number of people that said they would like to choose to join the union or have the flexibility not to and believe they will get better accountability from unions,” he said. “So in many respects it could be a positive for unions over the longer term.”

Bob King of the United Autoworkers called that “a bunch of malarkey.”

“That’s baloney,” King told Mitchell. “’Right to work’ lowers wages, lowers benefits; it lowers health care. ‘Right-to-work’ is bad for working families.”

Michigan is poised to become the 24th ‘Right to Work’ state in the nation, joining only Indiana among Midwest industrial states with the law. Michigan’s ordeal follows two years of heightened controversy over the organized labor movement and collective bargaining rights as seen in Wisconsin and Ohio in 2011. Indiana passed the right to work law in early 2012.

Snyder’s decision to sign the bills represents a reversal for the governor, who told a radio station in December 2011, referring to right-to-work legislation: “I don’t think it’s an appropriate subject for us to be dealing with today, because we have higher priorities that need to be addressed in our state.”

Michigan governor: Right-to-work 'could be a positive for unions'

Updated