Kristen M. Clark

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MEDC: Right-to-work claim

wasn't fact-checked

By Kristen M. Daum

kdaum@lsj.com

 

LANSING — The Michigan Economic Development Corp. said Thursday it did not

check the accuracy of a claim it made on its website advertising that the state’s

new right-to-work laws will mean “higher potential profits” for businesses investing

in the state.

 

The MEDC removed most traces of the claim from its website sometime Thursday after the Lansing State Journal reported that same day that the agency would not explain the origin of that statement or provide data to back it up.

 

However, as the state agency distanced itself from using the statement, Republican Gov. Rick Snyder stood

behind it.

 

Snyder asserted an identical claim when explaining his support for right-to-work in a guest post on Forbes.com in December that was published less than a day after he signed the controversial legislation into law.

 

The governor wrote then that “The bottom line (is) Michigan businesses will realize greater efficiency and higher

potential profits while partnering with a world-class workforce that will be free to decide whether union membership

is right for them.”

 

“The governor’s comments were made from his general point of view,” Snyder spokesman Kurt Weiss said

Thursday. “Yes, he stands behind the statement. As we have said before, right-to-work is one of many tools in the

toolbox to attract businesses to Michigan.”

 

Weiss said the decision Thursday to pull the same language from the MEDC’s website was made by the agency’s

president and CEO, Michael Finney. Snyder was not involved.

 

MEDC spokeswoman Kathy Fagan said the language was removed “in order to fact check the information that had

been posted.”

 

“We will make a determination going forward on appropriate language once the fact checking process is completed,” she said.

 

The MEDC is tasked with attracting business investment to Michigan and uses its “Michigan Advantage” webpage

to promote recent reforms Republicans have made to make the state more business-friendly.

 

Since at least March 20, the website echoed Snyder’s claim that right-to-work would mean “greater efficiency and

higher potential profits” for businesses. The claim on the website was edited sometime Thursday to include only the

latter part of the statement about Michigan’s workforce.

 

As of Thursday evening, though, a printable infographic that included the original claim was still available on the

site. Metadata for that webpage shows the promotional flier has been available since at least Jan. 11 — more than

two months before the laws took effect March 28.

 

The MEDC’s use of right-to-work as a promotional tool to entice business has angered union allies opposed to the

laws, which prohibit paying mandatory dues as a condition of employment.

 

Critics of right-to-work said the claim about “higher potential profits” validated their fears — and a 2011 study from

a left-leaning think tank — that right-to-work will mean lower wages for workers.

April 12, 2013 • News • Page A2

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