Our “It wasn’t on my agenda … before it was on my agenda” Gov. Rick Snyder has given his imprimatur to an assault on one of Michigan’s most heretofore unassailable traditions: the union shop.
Much of what we don’t like about politicians and politics came crashing in on Michigan government this week when Republican legislators, along with a compliant Snyder, blew all chances of near-term bipartisan cooperation in state government dealings. They did it with a strategically shrewd but ethically reprehensible (even for politicians) storming of the traditional union firewall against right-to-work legislation.
Along with a federal fiscal cliff (the fall from which could be of indeterminate duration), Michigan citizens will be facing a much longer simmering state government stand-off. Regardless of the success of the railroaded right-to-work legislation thrust upon the citizenry without legislative committee meetings or opportunity for citizen input, the gauntlet is thrown down and now the Republican faction must run it.
The sudden Republican strike with its unfortunate timing and questionable judgment resulted in a quick victory. It is undoubtedly a pyrrhic victory. Trust and respect are not universal political trademarks, but they are nonetheless expected in legislation of this magnitude. Trust, short of dramatic reversals of fate, has been squandered.
What comes next is yet to be determined. Michigan’s lawmakers have plenty of other items on its schedule that need attention. The state could suffer if Democrats choose to refer to cooperation as “not on their agenda.”
In spite of all the drama of protesters storming the Capitol, there’s plenty of evidence that Michigan citizens are pretty much split on the issue. Right to work poses no threat to collective bargaining; it does, however put union management in a brighter spotlight, and creates more competition in the matter of who’s doing what for workers.
Most of us are surprised and more than a little disappointed in how our legislative leaders have handled the issue so far. It’s done, however, and civility and respect must return to our state government operation. We remain confident that a decision by Michigan citizen-voters will ultimately prevail.
Editorial opinions are the consensus of The Daily News editorial board.