Mitchell Reports | December 11, 2012
>>> the showdown over right to work legislation in michigan could cause a ripple effect across the country with major implications for working class families and for elected officials who represent them. joining me now is democratic strategist debbie dingell and michael steele , msnbc political analyst and former republican national chairman. thanks to both of you. debbie , you just saw what was happening in your home state. i know you are back and forth to michigan all the time. what is the importance to this vote and of what governor snyder says he is going to sign tomorrow?
>> i don't think people recognize how this has torn our state apart. the governor up until thursday of last week kept saying that this issue was not on his agenda. i don't think he understands, this was a governor that was trying to bring people together, claimed he was trying to bring people together. labor and management had made very significant strides. you saw it when they worked together on the auto -- helping the auto industry . michigan is going to be torn apart for the next two years until the election in november of 2014 where you will see some kind of ballot initiative , without question, and i don't know what else will happen between now and then in terms of political options. it is going to tear the state apart in ways that none of us ever thought would happen. it is going to make it very difficult to move forward in many, many fronts.
>> well, michael steele , as a former party leader and as a smart political analyst , why was this something that the republicans is and michigan wanted to buy into just as the republican party is rethinking how to be more broad-based.
>> that's a curious question. to ms. dingell 's point, i have heard republicans in michigan reflect that exact sentiment she reflected about the concern going forward of how this is perceived by the public, more importantly, and how it plays out politically for republicans, as you know. the legislature elects every two years, so there's, you know, some concern about the control you have today you may lose tomorrow if this is not smartly addressed, and i think what the governor says in fraeming the arguments going forward to the people of michigan , putting in context both the economic and the political consequences of his decision to suddenly do this because this did come out of left field . he i don't think anyone expected this on the ground there in michigan as they went into the lame-duck session. a number of folks lost elections, who are now voting on this piece of legislation for the next two years, so there's a lot here that i think analysts are going to be looking at longer term and by that i mean over the next two years as ms. dingell pointed out, and to see what the alternate ram ficks are going to be. the political consequences are huge here because if this gets to stick at any measurable way, it does have a broader ripple effect across the country. this is the 24th state that has right to work, so you will have other states looking at the michigan model which a lot of people are going to pay a lot of attention to.
>> debbie , you know the auto industry very well. you used to work in the auto industry . did management push this, because management has successfully gotten give-backs from the union, and together they have, as you point out, worked with the government to revive the auto industry , so why is this the right time to do this?
>> well, very careful here. the auto industry has made it very clear that they are neutral. i think privately and quietly they're very concerned about whether this is divisive in the timing of this and that they would rather see the governor and others focus on other things. business has not wanted to be drawn into the middle of this fight, or the larger businesses that have strong union memberships. perhaps that's one of the reasons this moved so quickly. businesses on the western side of the state, which tend to be more republican and anti-labor, have been very strong pushers of this legislation, and quite frankly, dick devoss and the republican finance chair of the republican party have been instrumental in the politics of what changed the dynamics of this in the last week, and they've raised the money for the advertising campaign that you're seeing on television. what i think they underestimated is the passion that they unleashed. i went across this state over the weekend, and i cannot tell you, i heard working men and women say things i've never heard them say. they would not go to lansing and be marshalls because they didn't want anyone telling them what to say. school teachers were taking the day off because they were going to lansing to tell people what they thought. they take this as something very personal attacking working men and women in our state. nationally this is ground zero . you are going to see a lot of attention on michigan the next two years.
>> i was going to say, very quickly, i think it also says something about the union leadership at large as well. i think a lot of this creeping up on unions around the country, whether you are talking wisconsin and now michigan , is something that the union leadership needs to pay closer attention to, that this type of initiative actually has the groundswell within the legislature, republican or democratic-led, to move to the point where the governor is prepared to sign it. the political ripple effect of this goes much beyond just the economics and who, you know, shot or passed the bill, but it speaks to where labor as a movement in this country is at this point as well.
>> indeed. s michael steele , debbie dingell -- final words, debbie ?
>> i was going to make one point. why are they not taking this to the people and letting the people vote on it, and they're very afraid of a vote by the people. they've used a parliamentary maneuver to make it more difficult to put it on the ballot. many business people said let the people vote on it, and they're afraid of the people voting on this.
>> we're going to have to leave it there. thank you so much. thanks, debra dingell and michael steele .