LANSING (WWJ) – President Barack Obama repeated his opposition to right-to-work laws as the Republican-controlled Michigan legislature moved toward adopting the union-curbing measure.
In a statement out Thursday, White House spokesman Matt Lehrich said President Obama has long opposed right-to-work laws, “and he continues to oppose them now.”
“The President believes our economy is stronger when workers get good wages and good benefits, and he opposes attempts to roll back their rights,” Lehrich said. “Michigan – and its workers’ role in the revival of the U.S. automobile industry – is a prime example of how unions have helped build a strong middle class and a strong American economy.”
State Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer said they’re calling on the White House for help in an effort to prevent Michigan from becoming a right-to-work state.
Said Whitmer to WWJ Lansing Bureau Chief Tim Skubick, ”We’re hoping when President Obama comes to Michigan next week this is going to be on his radar screen, that he’s going to say, ‘If Michigan doesn’t care about their middle class, why should we be bending over backwards to make sure that this governor is able to deliver on his promises?’”
Skubick says Gov. Snyder needs cash from the Democratic President to complete projects including the new Detroit/Windsor international bridge crossing and the Woodward Avenue rail system — and it’s not yet clear if this could turn into a political game of let’s make a deal.
“If this works out the way the Democrats would hope, here’s the scenario: Governor, if you sign the legislation, kiss that money goodbye. And if you nix it and veto it, well, guess what? We’ll open up the wallets and get you the money,” Skubick said. ”Some people might call that blackmail. In politics we call it taking advantage of a situation.”
Snyder, for the first time speaking out in support of a right-to-work plan, said this not a union-busting move and is actually pro-worker — giving hardworking Michiganders a choice. (More from the governor here).
So-called right-to-work measures generally prohibit requiring unions from collecting fees from nonunion employees.
If the two bills are enacted, Michigan would become the nation’s 25th right-to-work state.
The President is expected to travel to our state on Monday, Dec. 10, to talk about the economy at the Daimler Detroit Diesel plant in Redford.