Drinking the Kochs’ Kool-Aid: Who Put ‘Right to Work’ on MI Gov. Snyder’s Agenda
A narrative gaining currency among Rick Snyder’s defenders explains his flip-flop on right-to-work legislation as a reluctant response to labor unions who put Proposal 2 on the November ballot over the governor’s objections, then refused to bargain with good faith with him afterward.
But the truth? Snyder hasn’t gotten much respect from the groups backing right-to-work, either.
Americans For Prosperity, founded by billionaire tea party titans David and Charles Koch, is heralding Michigan’s imminent passage of right-to-work legislation laws in Michigan as “the shot heard around the world” in the fight to weaken unions.
But the group was also a significant financial backer of Proposal 5, an effort to amend the Michigan Constitution to bar tax increases without a two-thirds legislative supermajority.
So why would Snyder turn from labor unions to a group that was behind a constitutional amendment he described as “bad public policy”?
The answer may lie in another Koch-funded group, the American Legislative Exchange Council, which promotes a radical right-wing agenda in states across the country, supplying “model legislation” to sympathetic lawmakers.
The organization boasts more than 2,000 legislative members. It also has corporate members, who weigh in on the model legislation before it’s approved by the group’s public-sector committee, the group’s national chairman said in an interview he gave after dozens of pieces of ALEC-written model legislation were leaked last year in a joint project by The Nation and the Center for Media and Democracy.
Michigan’s proposed right-to-work bills mirror the ALEC language practically word-for-word.
It’s unclear how many Michigan lawmakers are members of ALEC; the group doesn’t make its membership rolls public. But at least one of the lawmakers who introduced Michigan’s right-to-work legislation has been associated with ALEC.
Certainly, there are a large number of Michigan legislators who are beholden to Americans for Prosperity, or the Koch brothers. Word is the groups threatened Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville’s leadership post, and promised him a primary challenge in 2014, if he refused to move right-to-work forward.