Michigan Lawmakers Approve Right-to-Work Bills
Angry protestors were in the Capitol as Michigan lawmakers approved Tuesday the right-to-work legislation that dealt a devastating defeat to organized labor in the state. The Republican-controlled House ignored Democrat’s plea to delay the passage.
The Michigan lawmakers in the House approved the two bills with the same efficiency that the Senate showed a week ago. One of the bills dealt with the private sector workers while the other with government workers. Republican Governor Rick Snyder signed both measures within hours of their approval.
House Speaker Jase Bolger said that Michigan’s future has never been brighter because workers are now free. Once the laws are enacted, the state will join 23 others with right-to-work laws that ban requirements that non-union workers pay unions for negotiating contracts and other services.
Supporters of the measures said that they give workers more options and support economic growth. But critics insist that the real reason behind the laws is to weaken the unions by encouraging workers to freeload by withholding money the unions need to bargain effectively with the management.
Protestors shouted “Shame on you!” as the measures was approved. Union supporters filled the hallways and grounds to show their dismay. Democrats warned that hard feelings over the legislation as well as the Republicans’ refusal to hold committee hearings would have a long term effect.
US Senator Carl Levin and other Democrats met with Snyder Monday and urged him to take things slow with regards to the measures. Levin said that millions of Michigan workers take the issue seriously. It is against their right to have their elected bargaining agent negotiate their pay, working conditions, and benefits.
The number of protestors was considerably small compared to the crowds attracted by right-to-work legislation in Indiana and in Wisconsin. The measures resulted into weeks of debate with Democrats boycotting session in order to delay action.