Against a backdrop of picketers, Gov. Rick Snyder stood alone on the stage -- save for a single chair -- at the Michigan Chronicle’s Pancakes and Politics breakfast at the Detroit Athletic Club on Thursday morning to address a receptive crowd of city and state officials, corporate leaders, entrepreneurs and educators. Snyder spoke frankly about a wide range of hotbed issues, with Detroit’s Emergency Manager and the Right To Work mandate being at the forefront. Real Times Media CEO and Michigan Chronicle publisher, Hiram Jackson noted that Thursday, March 28 marked the implementation of Michigan’s Right To Work law, and that he could not have foreseen that action when he began planning the event almost a year ago. “This can be a time of chaos and confusion, but I think of it as a time of clarity,” said Jackson.
Michigan is the 24th state to enact a Right to Work law.
The Pancakes and Politics forum is recognized as one of Detroit's premier platforms for providing opportunities for government, public and private sectors to dialogue and candidly discuss challenges and solutions for the City of Detroit and its residents.
Moderated by CBS Channel 62’s Carol Cain, Michigan’s 48th governor opened with candor and frankness. “Typically we just hear about the negatives,” remarked Snyder. “We shouldn’t avoid the negatives, we need to do better … but at the same time we should talk about the good things going on. The question is, 'Are our common goals the same?' ”
When asked about his stance on unions and RTW, Gov. Snyder replied, “I prefer [the term] Freedom to Work. I respect the unions. But, time has evolved and the issue is has their role evolved enough for what we have today. It’s not an issue about being anti-union, it’s about being pro worker.”
Gov. Snyder told Pancake and Politics participants that his office is already receiving positive feedback from companies around the nation who were previously opposed to moving operations to Michigan, but are now considering a presence in the state since the law’s enactment. “It would be a dumb business move for them to tell you that … but Michigan is more competitive [now].”
“The [RTW] issue was on the table, it was divisive and it was not going to go away, so I had to make a decision. That’s what happened. It’s done and it’s over with,” said Snyder
Snyder also informed the crowd of more than 300 that his administration was reversing labor trends by bringing jobs back to Michigan from Mexico.
“I am for a positive, forward-looking, inclusive Michigan, instead of looking backward at the good old days and not looking forward to a bright future,” he concluded before the Politics and Pancakes open question discussion.
When Michigan Chronicle senior editor Bankole Thompson asked the governor to address Detroit’s Emergency Financial management, Snyder responded that several factors had to be considered.
“I am a supportive partner here. First there is the financial stability of the city … and do we have short term cash management working appropriately … and do we have the long term management in hand.
It is [to establish] the platform for longer terms of success, and to move forward post-EM," said Snyder, remarking that significant improvement in city services, financial stability and a framework for long term management were the benchmarks of emergency managr success.