"Unions play an absolutely critical role, especially in an era where the rich are getting richer, the poor are getting poorer," Joe Scarborough stated Wednesday morning during a discussion about Michigan and the labor battle currently taking place there over the right-to-work legislation signed into law Tuesday by the state's Republican Gov. Rick Snyder.
"But, am I anti-union, is somebody anti-union…for saying…I should be able to work where I want to work and pay union dues if I want to pay union dues? Is that a demonstrably anti-union position or is that just supporting freedom?," he continued.
On Tuesday, Michigan became the 24th right-to-work state after Snyder signed two bills into law. Right-to-work refers to a union requiring a worker to pay dues as part of being employed. Michigan, which Morning Joe regular Mike Barnicle notes "was such a part of the core of unionism in this country," estimates that roughly 17.5% of its workers are unionized.
The bills have been highly controversial in Michigan, and thousands gathered yesterday at the Capitol in Lansing to make their voices heard on the issue.
"Right-to-work. What does it mean? It means that unions can force somebody to pay them if they want to get a job in the state of Michigan," Scarborough said.
Barnicle disagreed: "What it means is if you get a job, the union extracts money from your paycheck for union dues."
Scarborough continued to discuss the importance of a worker's right to choose to opt out of paying dues.
"As I said, unions built the middle class of America, and if I have to choose between a CEO making lots of money and the money getting spread around in a free market system, I’ll take the money getting spread around...[But] what if I don’t want to pay you? What if I don’t want to support the candidates you want to support? What if all the candidates you support are the antithesis of my values? Too bad."