Andrea Mitchell Grills Michigan Governor Over Right to Work Laws

It appears as though NBC’s Andrea Mitchell has sided with the unions in the latest battle over workers’ rights, this time in Michigan. 

Appearing on Tuesday’s Andrea Mitchell Reports, Ms. Mitchell took it upon herself to hammer Governor Rick Snyder (R-Mich.) over his decision to sign a bill making Michigan the 24th right to work state. She later followed up the Snyder segment with a friendly chat with liberal columnist Ruth Marcus and later with a softball interview with the Rev. Jesse Jackson and a United Auto Workers union boss.  [See video below page break.  MP3 audio here.]

Right off the bat, Mitchell went on the attack:

All the data show that they are going to be lower wage jobs, that there's a real distinction between right to work states and other states, and these are the private sector jobs.  Not just the public sector jobs.  There was an argument that was made fairly effectively in Wisconsin and other places about teachers and other public sector employees, but here you have the autoworkers who gave back a lot of their benefits in order to help rescue the auto industry.  So why punish autoworkers who have already shown they're willing to cooperate with management?

Gov. Snyder shot back at Mitchell by pointing out that:

Well, I think it's important to make a distinction with Wisconsin and Ohio.  That was about collective bargaining.  That was about the relationship between employers and unions.  This is nothing to do with that.  Right to work is about the relationship between the union and workers.  And this is about being pro-workers.

Mitchell went further, suggesting that Snyder’s efforts are cynically motivated by partisan politics:

One of the issues is it's a lame-duck session.  You’ve got more Republicans now supporting this measure.  Why push this through in a lame-duck session?  Why not let it be aired after the next legislature comes in and there will be more Democrats?  Isn't that fair?

Not only was Mitchell aggressively pro-union, but her claims that right to work states have lower wages compared to their union counterparts are grossly misstated.  According to the West Michigan Policy Forum, of the 10 states with the highest rate of personal income growth, eight have right-to-work laws.  In addition, the 2010 Cato Journal found that there is a 23 percent higher rate of per capita income growth in right-to-work states over non-right-to-work states.   

In addition, Ms. Mitchell falsely claims that the UAW made major concessions to help Detroit automakers stop bleeding money, she ignores the fact that the UAW was given substantial ownership in both Chrysler and General Motors. 

Andrea Mitchell has joined the long list of MSNBC hosts who act more like activists than journalists, much in the same way her colleague and evening anchor Ed Schultz aggressively served as a union surrogate in 2011 as Wisconsin passed public sector union reforms and in early 2012 as the network agitated for Gov. Walker's recall.

 

See relevant transcript below.    


MSNBC

Andrea Mitchell Reports

December 11, 2012

1:03 p.m. EST

ANDREA MITCHELL: And joining me now from inside the statehouse, of course, the Michigan Governor Rick Snyder.  Governor Snyder, thank you very much for joining us.  Tell me why now and why this issue, why take this on?  This is not what you campaigned on. 

RICK SNYDER: No. and I appreciate that, Andrea.  It really goes back to last summertime.  The labor movement, labor leaders were pushing forward something called Proposal 2.  They were doing signatures to put on it the ballot, which would have been a massive overreach into Michigan's constitution regarding collective bargaining.  I believe in collective bargaining, but this was way over the top, and I asked him not to go forward, and the reasons I said is you are going to start a very divisive discussion regarding collective bargaining first, but it also will get into right to work.  You know, it will create a big stir about right to work in addition to collective bargaining.  Well the voters spoke in November and dramatically voted down proposal two, but then this right to work discussion just continued to escalate and was becoming very divisive.  So the way I viewed it is, it's on the table.  It's a hot issue.  Let's show some leadership, so I stepped up to say when I review it, I think it's a good thing.  It's about being pro-worker.  It’s about giving freedom of choice to workers and then secondly, as was mentioned in the earlier report, it's about economic development.  We will get more and better jobs coming to Michigan because we're going to be more competitive.

MITCHELL: But all the data show that they are going to be lower wage jobs, that there's a real distinction between right to work states and other states, and these are the private sector jobs.  Not just the public sector jobs.  There was an argument that was made fairly effectively in Wisconsin and other places about teachers and other public sector employees, but here you have the autoworkers who gave back a lot of their benefits in order to help rescue the auto industry.  So why punish autoworkers who have already shown they're willing to cooperate with management?

SNYDER: Well, I think it's important to make a distinction with Wisconsin and Ohio.  That was about collective bargaining. That was about the relationship between employers and unions.  This is nothing to do with that.  Right to work is about the relationship between the union and workers.  And this is about being pro-workers.  Giving workers the choice.  If anything, this should encourage unions to be more responsive to workers in terms of saying they need to show a valued proposition of why they're a great place to join, and I have met a number of people that said they would like to choose to join the union or have the flexibility not to, and they believe they'll get better accountability from unions.  So in many respects it could be a positive for unions over the longer term.  So this is something that, again, it's stepping up for workers.  This is not to interfere in employer relationships at all.

MITCHELL: Well the workers, of course, feel that it's union busting and that it is interfering with their relationships.  And you had said that you think it is divisive, that it's not something you sought. You had higher priorities.  You said this just on Friday.  Why sign it? It's apparently going to hit your desk tomorrow.  Are you still determined to sign it?

SNYDER: Yes, I am, because, again, it had reached critical mass in terms of being a divisive issue in our state.  Again, if you look back at where Michigan was, we were at the bottom for the last decade.  We've lost over 760,000 jobs.  Since I came to office, we've gained 141,000 back.  We've done tax reform, budgets have been balanced, we're paying down debt.  A lot of good things.  And we've become very competitive, and this is another step in that process to say let's give our workers the choice, and when you look at Indiana and see what they've achieved since February when they did similar legislation, they've gotten thousands of jobs coming to Indiana because of this issue.

MITCHELL: Governor, one of the issues is it's a lame-duck session.  You’ve got more Republicans now supporting this measure.  Why push this through in a lame-duck session?  Why not let it be aired after the next legislature comes in and there will be more Democrats?  Isn't that fair?

SNYDER: I didn't view any of this to get into the politics of it.  This is a policy issue that came about because, again, the Proposal 2 went down, and we had a large scale discussion going on, a very divisive issue that as best in my view to say it's on the table let’s make decisions let’s move forward.  There's been a lot of discussion on the right to work in Michigan for many years.  Over the last month or so people in Michigan know about this issue, and there's been lots of ways to contact legislators, so I think there's been a lot of dialogue on this, and let's just get this done.  This is to move Michigan forward.  About more and better jobs and worker choice.

MITCHELL: Thank you very much, Governor Rick Snyder.  Thanks for joining us on a busy day obviously there on the capitol.  We really appreciate it.

SNYDER: Thank you.

Jeffrey Meyer
Jeffrey Meyer
Jeffrey Meyer is a News Analyst at the Media Research Center.