Morning Joe | December 12, 2012
>>> here with us now, former governor of vermont and former chairman of the democratic national committee , howard dean joining the table this morning. good to have you.
>> can we get to the must-reads in one second?
>> i've got a quick question for howard here. howard , we were making your blood boil when we were talking about the union story.
>> help us out here. there has to be a middle ground because if there's not, it's bad news for unions because, obviously, right-to-work is spreading even across michigan . so if i say to you your union shouldn't have a right to compel me to write a check, it's about my freedom to choose, you could then say to me, yeah, but you know what? i'm negotiating with management. and you're going to get a free ride off of all the hard work and sweat.
>> what is the middle ground there?
>> there isn't a middle ground . i think for me right-to-work isn't to be anti- union . i actually think that hurt obama -- excuse me, that hurt romney in ohio. all the supposed the white, blue-collar workers who weren't going to support obama. a lot of them in ohio did support him. they did exactly this and then it was reversed on the ballot by a public vote a year later. people didn't forget that. here's the problem. the problem is the free rider problem . in all right-to-work states, if you and i are both working for the same employer and i'm getting a pretty good wage because it's a union job --
>> -- and you're not paying any dues, you get the same benefits everybody else does. that's not fair.
>> is there a way to have two different pay scales, a union and a nonunion pay scales?
>> practically there isn't.
>> because i said it was un-american for a union to compel me to pay union dues if i didn't want to. i think it's also un-american for me to freeload off of you if you're a union leader who's paying dues every month. i shouldn't gain that benefit from you. can you have two different pay scales, a union pay scale and a nonunion pay scale?
>> in theory you could but it would totally demoralize and disrupt the work force . how would you like to do the same job as somebody next door.
>> if i made that choice to not join a union , that was my choice and i would have to suffer those consequences.
>> i know that's very libertarian and sounds terrific and very practical and all that.
>> it sounds kind of fair. it sounds like personal responsibility .
>> i think most people would say that was compelling people to join a union as well. i know what you're trying to do. if you wanted to do it, what you really need is campaign finance reform . if you don't want big corporations and unions and so forth to be influencing politics on your behalf because you're a republican and most of the unions are democrats, then get rid of donations to campaigns. and that solves the whole problem.
>> from unions and corporations.
>> right. but i do think if you're going to join a company that's unionized and get a whole lot better -- as barnicle said, 10, 15, 20% more money, then you really should be paying dues to that union . this is a direct attack on unions. and you're right. the history of america, in the '50s and '60s when the unions were strongest is when american workers were doing better. i actually believe that making unions stronger helps this terrible divide that we have between the rich and the poor.
>> it's what we talked about before. the rich are getting richer, poor are getting poorer, ceos are getting larger wages, workers are getting smaller wages. do you agree that the unions -- i say like the republican party , they have to reform or they're going to die.
>> they are reforming. it's slow. the uaw actually did a fantastic job helping the american automobile industry come back on its feet. they gave in a lot of concessions. i believe the american federation of teachers , i know we differ on this, contributes a lot to education reform . is it as fast as we'd like? no.
>> randy's working with chris christie right now. i think in newark, that's a great son. willie, in your home state?
>> they're running a charter school in east new york . they've got three of them in the city.
>> it has been good in that case to see the government and the union work together. i do want to ask you one question, and not rhetorically. do you believe in a place like spring hill , tennessee, where there's a new volkswagen plant, the jobs came back but at a low wage, some of them at $12 an hour. do you think that's a good thing where they wouldn't be there even though it's a low wage?
>> it's better than having the jobs in china, but those kinds of jobs eventually mean we can't have the kind of standard of living we had in this country. you know, you're not going to turn down a plant that's bringing jobs in, but, you know, what about the environmental laws ? who's going to protect workers against not only the wage stuff but what about all the chemicals people get exposed to and these kinds of things in these kinds of industries? these are complicated, tough issues. i think throwing the unions under the bus is very stupid.
>> harold meyerson in "the washington post ." no fair wage for you. what conservatives haven't acknowledged and what even most liberal commentators fail to appreciate is how central the collapse of collective bargaining is to american workers' inability to win themselves a raise. yes, globalizing and mechanizing jobs has cut into the livelihoods of millions of u.s. workers, but that's far from the whole story. an exhaustive study by economist lonnie k.stevans of hofstra found that states that have enacted such laws reported no increase in start-ups or rates. wages and personal income are lower in those states than in those without such laws, he conclud concluded, though propry tors' incomes are higher.
>> that's the problem. that's the issue. that is the problem.
>> and perhaps that was -- i'd love to hear the governor answer that question because he argued, governor snyder, he argued in the clip that you showed that this is about increasing business start-ups, increasing economic development of business activity in michigan . and in the face of those numbers, and mike quoted some stats -- barnicle did -- how do you reconcile those comments? it would be interesting to hear him walk through that.
>> that's exactly the problem. this is actually going to make mish misch a po r michigan a poorer state, not a state without jobs.
>> wouldn't that help make the process and the function of what unions do cleaner?
>> well, yeah. of course, the problem is now that the corporations are doing five times as much. but yeah, i think citizens -- we've talked on this show a lot -- i think citizens united is a disaster for the country. you know, this is -- what we've got to do is fix the citizens united problem, and then this argument that joe has, which is not a ridiculous argument, goes away.
>> how kind of you. by the way, this is the howard dean says i agree with joe . it's not a completely ridiculous argument brought up by a jackass.
>> it's not comical.
>> this time.
>> this time. yeah.
>> governor -- i think governor dean made the point, this seems to me -- and the point you're raising, joe -- is this a finance campaign problem they're trying to fix by eltding union rights?
>> this is what they argue.
>> that's what they claim.
>> i'm agreeing. they should have done a campaign finance overhaul.
>> they somehow think if they lower working people 's wages, that's going to be good for business. it's stupid and it's really bad for america and it's exactly what's undercutting our nation.
>> limiting workers' rights.
>> this is about the people who run the companies making more money at the expense of the working people , and that's the mistake. as long as we have that mentality in the united states of america , we're going to continue on the path we're on.
>> i agree with you.
>> all right, howard . thank you so much for being here. by the way, can we get a close-up of howard 's shirt?
>> my proud -- imported from detroit .
>> it's solidarity, my man.
>> chrysler. a union employer. they do all right.
>> i tell you what. what an exciting story. obviously what's happening with gm. what's happening with chrysler. what's happening with ford.
>> i mean, these are companies that are fighting back.
>> coming back.
>> and it is inspiring.
>> they need strong unions.
>> let's do a town hall meeting .
>> let's do it. that was fun. we did that in new jersey on education. let's do it.
>> let's go to detroit and we can talk about this, also how to revive detroit .
>> michigan , you did a show for the big detroit regional chamber of commerce .
>> look forward to that.
>> we're all going to be there.
>> in vermont, you don't need, because of the icy conditions there, a ford raptor, do you?
>> oh, you need a raptor.
>> i have a hybrid escape.
>> raptor's a lot like the escape.
>> except it has horrific gas mileage . the raptor.
>> oh, the raptor.
>> four miles to the gallon.
>> escape gets good mileage.
>> 31 in the summertime. it's fantastic.
>>> still ahead, political analyst richard wolffe . also the president of the university of pennsylvania and author amy guttmann explains why the permanent campaign is getting in the way of compromise in washington. more " morning joe " when we come back. [ man ] ring ring ... progresso this reduced sodium soup says it may help lower cholesterol, how does it work? you just have to eat it as part of your heart