Michigan Governor Rick Snyder has stated "right-to-work" legislation is now "on the agenda," a surprising change of course for a politician who has in the past consistently discouraged the state's Republican lawmakers from taking up the divisive legislation. Right-to-work laws stop mandatory dues payment requirements in union workplaces.
The governor's surprising comments came Tuesday night after a private meeting on the topic with House Speaker Jase Bolger (R-Marshall), Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville (R-Monroe) and Lt. Gov. Brian Calley .
"There's been enough discussion now that it has been highlighted enough, it's an important issue, so we are going to talk about it," Snyder told the Detroit News. "There will be decisions made in the appropriate timeframe."
The current talk follows the November defeat of Proposal 2, a measure which would have amended the state constitution to guarantee collective bargaining rights to public and private-sector employees. The governor counseled union officials against pursuing the amendment.
"My concern is that could start a whole divisive atmosphere of other people trying to put right-to-work on the ballot, a whole bunch of things like that, and that would distract from the good things we've got going on," Snyder told the Detroit Free Press.
Union leaders and Republicans have been involved in discussions over the legislation, although the governor has said no decision has yet been made on the issue, Businessweek reports.
Right-to-work supporters and opponents have also had an active presence lobbying for and against the measure in Lansing this week, resulting in an increased police presence at the state's capitol building, according to Crain's Detroit.
Earlier this week the Michigan Chamber of Commerce came out in favor of the legislation.
It's still not certain if new or revised legislation will be taken up during the current lame duck session of the state legislature. Bolger's Press Secretary Ari Adler said no decision has yet been made to move forward on it.
“Basically we are discussing whether this is the right thing for Michigan and Michigan workers,” he told Crain's Detroit. “If we determine it’s the right thing to do and the right time to do it then we will proceed.”
51 percent of Michigan residents favor the right-to-work legislation and 41 percent oppose it, according to a recent Mitchell Research & Communication poll released to the Detroit News.
Right-to-work legislation is also under discussion in Wisconsin. The laws are now in place in 23 states, including Indiana, which became the first Rust Belt state to adopt the policy in February.