New York Times breaks down right-to-work role of Dick DeVos

Originally posted in New York Times on December 17, 2012

GRAND RAPIDS, MI – Dick DeVos had a scheduling conflict that kept him from attending recent holiday parties at Gov. Snyder’s residence, but timing this month was better for the Grand Rapids businessman’s longstanding effort to make Michigan a right-to-work state, according to The New York Times.

DeVos is quoted in this Sunday, Dec. 16, report saying Nov. 6 voting results that defeated Proposal 2 and maintained Republican control of the state Legislature presented the opportunity to pursue right to work in the cradle of U.S. labor, President Obama’s re-election aside.

“A lot of things contributed timeline-wise to this,” said Greg McNeilly, a DeVos associate and Michigan Freedom Fund president. “It had nothing to do with retribution (for Proposal 2), but (that union-backed ballot proposal) did serve a timeliness factor because it made the issue fresh. It put the issue on the agenda.

“They initiated the conversation. (United Autoworkers President) Bob King and (Michigan Education Association president) Steve Cook were as much a catalyst (for right to work) as Dick DeVos was.”

The Times report by Nicholas Confessore and Monica Davey reads like a case study of how GOP donors like DeVos were able to influence conservative legislation in a state with two Democratic senators and a preference for Democrats in the last several presidential elections. It also quotes House Speaker Jase Bolger saying that right-to-work promotion by McNeilly’s Freedom Fund, for example, helped nudge lawmakers forward on the legislation when “there was a lot of caution in starting.”

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The 2010 election of Snyder, the GOP’s ability to keep a majority in the state House and Senate and the defeat of Proposal 2 all made the Legislature’s recent lame-duck session an opportunity to be seized by DeVos, who lost his own gubernatorial bid in 2006.

“I really owe him a call to congratulate him and thank him for stepping up and doing the right thing,” The Times quotes DeVos saying about Snyder.