From our friend Charlie Spiering at the Washington Examiner comes this clip of a former Michigan governor whose state suffered a net out migration and lost 630,000 jobs during her tenure asking a white multi-millionaire how to keep rich white guys from destroying the middle-class economies of the Midwest. Oh, and there’s the bit about the couch, which is also…rich.
Reuters has a great story on how the successful push for right-to-work happened in Michigan. Contra complaints from the left that it was somehow untoward or hidden, the success came as a result of canny combination of grassroots work, well-planned legislation, and a competent, coordinated political and PR roll-out that happened out in the open, during 2011 and 2012. It didn’t hurt that a ballot initiative enshrining collective bargaining rights in the state constitution went down 57-43 percent, a union overreach that drained their forces of $22 million and gave even wavering Republicans a reason to believe they had the people in their corner.
The efforts, which have been accused of opacity, included visits by the legislation’s Republican authors to union halls to explain the idea, press conferences on right-to-work legislation, the formation of the “Michigan Freedom to Work” coalition whose members wore bright yellow “Freedom to Work” t-shirts at the Republican Leadership Conference, which was also attended by Rick Perry, Mitt Romney, Reince Priebus, and their attendant press, and three Americans for Prosperity conferences on right-to-work featuring the late Andrew Breitbart. The reporters say right-to-work activists were “[o]perating in plain sight but often overlooked.”
After the ballot initiative went down dramatically, the work of 2011 and 2012 came together quickly.
After the November election, activists decided that the time was ripe to bring up right-to-work.
“As soon as the election ended, the dialogue on right-to-work just really ramped up,” Snyder said.
Activists viewed Senate leader Richardville as the most hesitant of the Republican leadership. Rather than confront him, sponsors quietly tried to convince him and lobbied other members of the Republican caucus.
Richardville, who says he hails from a union family, admitted that he was hesitant about right-to-work and said he made his mind up slowly as he saw the support in his Republican caucus.
“There wasn’t a eureka moment in that I finally see the light or a moment to jump up and down,” he told Reuters.
Snyder, a former computer executive who had campaigned as a moderate in the 2010 election, had said for nearly two years that right-to-work was too divisive for Michigan, but said he would sign a law if the legislature passed it. After the election he tried to get labor leaders and Republicans together to discuss a compromise but he said those talks failed.
Snyder and Richardville both told Reuters that they had made up their minds to go through with right-to-work legislation after a December 5 meeting with longtime right-to-work advocate state House Speaker Jase Bolger. Snyder announced the decision a day later and the draft laws were given preliminary approval by the legislature within hours.
Sponsors inserted in the laws a provision allocating $1 million to implement the laws, a shrewd way to make it harder to overturn the laws by referendum because Michigan’s constitution bars challenges of spending bills.
A media campaign was rolled out. Television advertising appeared across the state extolling the virtues of right-to-work produced by an agency linked to an associate of Dick DeVos.
Democrats and unions were outraged and said they were blindsided.
Read the whole thing. It’s a well-done piece and is very fair to Republican State Senator Patrick Colbeck who originated the push after seeing 2010’s Census numbers: “Michigan was the only state in the United States to see its population fall during the previous decade and he wanted to reverse that trend. People will not come back without jobs, his thinking went. That’s when Colbeck concluded that right-to-work was required to bring in new investment.”
The press is full of analyses of where the Tea Party movement has prevented Republican victories, but it doesn’t talk much about where it has exceeded expectations. Colbeck got into politics as a Tea Party activist, with a background in business and aerospace engineering. I’d argue one of the reasons right-to-work passed in Michigan might be because it took a political newcomer to question the conventional wisdom that it could never pass in Michigan. He’s a smart guy who devised a plan to pass it, and conservatives have a pretty historic victory on their hands. It’s not their fault unions were too busy shooting themselves in the foot to get off the couch sooner.
As with Gov. Scott Walker’s reforms, Michigan will now learn that such legislation does not hasten the bringing of hellfires upon the heads of working people (and can add jobs, as business testimonials and numbers in recently right-to-work Indiana suggest). Wishing Michigan nothing but the best, though it doesn’t take much to get better than the Granholm era.
Exit quotation (Allahpundit™), from a 2011 WSJ piece by William McGurn: “Some politicians give us failure. Some politicians give us failure mixed with spectacle. Once in a generation, a politician gives us failure and misunderstanding so colossal that his or her bad example rises to the level of public service.
To this elite few belongs Jennifer Granholm.”