As a former political advisor who has worked closely with the unions around Detroit, no one was more surprised than me about recent polls that are showing that Republican Rick Snyder is now leading Democrat Virg Bernero in the Michigan Gubernatorial Race by thirteen in the polls taken of union members. I decided to pull out the old rolodex of union leader phone numbers and find out why.
Due to the political ramifications that could result from union leaders publicly speaking against the candidate that is supported by the UAW and AFL-CIO (Democrat Virg Bernero), the union leaders that I spoke to asked to remain anonymous. The statements below are related directly from conversations with my contacts in union leadership, and do not reflect my own opinions.
Current Governor Jennifer Granholm
Many of the union members, especially many of those in the Detroit area, believe that the current Michigan governor, Jennifer Granholm, holds a lot of the blame for the current job market in the state of Michigan. Since Virg Bernero is a Democrat, like Governor Granholm, many union members believe that he is going to attempt to carry out some of the same faulty plans as the current governor.
Many union members believe that since Virg Bernero is a Democrat, he is going to be too accepting of the plans of President Obama. The union members want a governor that is going to look at the whole picture, and not just follow President Obama blindly.
According to many of my sources, there has been more and more of an anti-Democrat push among union members around Detroit. These members believe that the Democrats have done more for their political party then they have for the United States. Since Virg Bernero is a Democrat, his is automatically eliminated for consideration by these union members.
Health Care Reform
One of my union leadership sources stated that he believed that health care reform was the straw that broke the back of many union members, and brought about their anti-Democrat ideals. Health care of union members has been a hot topic among union members, and some of the non-supportive community. Since Virg Bernero has pointed out on several occasions that he was a fan and supporter of President Obama’s health care reform, he has lost points with the union.
Job Creation and Retention
Since Rick Snyder is a former business mogul, many union members believe that he will be a stronger voice for job creation, and the retention of jobs in the state. Virg Bernero, on the other hand, has been a life-long politician who does not have the same experience in speaking with, and to, the business community.
One contact in union leadership stated that she believed that there has been a growth in anti-union thoughts among union members in the last few years. These union members would not support Virg Bernero simply because he is supported by the UAW and AFL-CIO.
Whatever the final reason is as to why there are more union members in Michigan that are supporting Rick Snyder, union members still make up a minority of voters. It will be interesting as voting day gets closer if there will be a large number of non-union people that share the same distaste for Virg Bernero. Only time, and the final election numbers will tell.
Personal interviews with anonymous union leaders