Right-to-work law sparks union uproar in Michigan

Governor Rick Snyder on state's new legislation


This is a rush transcript from "Your World," December 11, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST OF "YOUR WORLD": It is the new ground zero in the battle for the future of the labor movement itself, Michigan, once an unflinchable union stronghold, the birthplace of the United Auto Workers union itself, but in less a week, transformed to the nation's 24th right-to-work state, limiting union power.

And the guy the unions are calling a rat, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder, is here now.

Welcome, everybody, big news day. I am Neil Cavuto.

And 24 hours after Governor Rick Snyder signed the right-to-work legislation into law, sparking all of these angry protests, it looks like the battle is just beginning.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Leave us alone. Leave us alone. Or we are coming for you. And we will get you out of your position. We're done.


CAVUTO: It appears that some unions are out for a lot more than their point of view, but for blood and they are not holding back.

And neither are some state lawmakers.


DOUGLAS GEISS (D), MICHIGAN STATE REPRESENTATIVE: We're going to pass something that will undo 100 years of labor relations. And there will be blood. There will be repercussions.


CAVUTO: First of all, I think everyone should kind of cool it on language like that.

But be that as it may, now that it is law, is the governor worried about what he's unleashed?

Michigan Republican Governor Rick Snyder with me now.

Governor, are you surprised by this?

GOV. RICK SNYDER, R-MICH.: Well, it's good to be with you, Neil.

I knew this is a very divisive issue. There were a lot of protests even before we started considering the bills on this topic. It's been around Michigan for a long time. But this is the right thing to do because it is actually is being pro-worker, and this is about giving workers the freedom to choose. And shouldn't they be able to make the choice if their financial resources are going to a union or not depending on seeing value or not?

The second thing is this will bring jobs to Michigan. And we need those jobs in our state. We've a great comeback going but more and better jobs for Michigan is good workers and actually good for unions.

CAVUTO: The union guys come back, Governor, and say, so, the non-union members who you would force among us -- this is their position -- benefit from contracts that we negotiate and ultimately sign. What do you say?

SNYDER: Again, if you look at it these are good hardworking people. If they see value in a union they're going to join because hardworking people don't take advantage of other people.

As a practical matter, if you stop and look at it if they don't see any value, I don't see why they should have to put dollar resources towards that. What it says is the unions need to put their value proposition together in a way that appeals to workers to make it exciting for them to want to contribute. And doesn't that make common sense?

CAVUTO: Some are already calling for a recall election. They want to throw your fanny out of there. Does Scott Walker ring a bell?

SNYDER: Well, again I went through -- they had several recall efforts last year on things I was doing, because when you reinvent a state, that's what we need to do in Michigan, people have difficulty with change.

But this change is good. This is about moving Michigan forward, not living in the past but building a future based on more and better jobs and a bright future for our kids.

CAVUTO: Do you think now, though, Governor, the difference between your situation now and Scott Walker's then is we've had a presidential election and a larger election, that has emboldened a lot of unions who can rightly say, they certainly galvanized the base and brought out the union base for the president and helped put him over the finish line, not exclusively, but I think in the big influential way.

So, they're more empowered now than they were with Scott Walker and more likely to stick the fight to you. What do you think?

SNYDER: Well, I think to argue this case is easier, much easier, because this is not about collective bargaining. Ohio and Wisconsin were collective bargaining issues.

This is about freedom to choose, this is about the relationship between a union and a worker, and this is very much being pro-worker, and this is essentially saying, shouldn't a worker have the ability do choose to contribute dollar resources or not based on seen value or not? This is very straightforward. I think it's important to stand up for workers' right.

CAVUTO: What do you make of the fact a couple of days ago President Obama came to your fine state and clearly disagreed with what you just said? This is from the president a couple of days ago.


PRESIDENT OBAMA: These so-called right-to-work laws, they don't have to do with economics. They have everything to do with politics.


OBAMA: What they're really talking about is giving you the right to work for less money.


CAVUTO: What do you think about that?

SNYDER: Well, two things.

The last comment about working for less money, that's about collective bargaining, and that's not the issue here at all. The second piece, in terms of looking at the worker side of it, this is very much pro-worker, this is stepping up not about politics but about stepping up to say, isn't it only fair that workers should only have to put up their hard-earned dollars for something they see value for and if the value doesn't exist, they shouldn't have to contribute.

Again, that burden should really be on the union side to saying they're putting together a value proposition that's really exciting, worthwhile, and hopefully they can convince workers to say, hey, it's great to be part of the organization and people want to join. And if they did they would on the same place they're at today.

CAVUTO: We'll watch closely, Governor. Thank you very much.

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