The scene in Michigan today is a familiar one. A Republican governor from a Midwest industrial state supports legislation that stymies the influence of labor unions.
If the bill is signed today by Gov. Rick Snyder, Michigan will become the 24th state to adopt a right-to-work law--and the strong opposition from labor groups and union workers in response echoes what we saw in Madison, Wisconsin in 2011.
But, unlike Wisconsin, there are no calls, yet at least, for a gubernatorial recall. Moreover the symbolism of Michigan's pending right-to-work legislation cannot be overlooked. Michigan is the birthplace of the powerful United Auto Workers union--the state is practically synonymous with auto workers and other union jobs. Furthermore, Snyder's support for the bill represents a shift in views for the Republican governor in his first term. Since he took office in January, 2011, Snyder has maintained that a right-to-work bill is not part of his agenda, and if he signs the legislation today, as is expected, he will likely face a harsh political backlash.
While Democrats lost their battle in Wisconsin, Democrats argued that the battle helped to energize the base for what turned out to be a decisive win for President Obama in the state.
And in Ohio, despite the recovering economy, Gov. John Kasich, who had his own losing battle with labor earlier this year, has approval ratings much lower than President Obama in Ohio. The latest Quinnipiac poll shows Kasich with 42 percent job approval rating--his highest of his tenure, but is still 12 points below that of President Obama's 54 percent rating.
With all three Governors up in 2014, the success for labor will ultimately be judged by whether or not these three are re-elected.