Michigan Lawmakers Poised To Pass Right-to-Work Bill, Outraging Union Protesters

NPR icon by Korva Coleman
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It seems to be a repeat of the 2011 union battle in Wisconsin — a Republican-led state legislature, supported by a Republican governor, suddenly takes up legislation that could change how unions are financed and run in the state.

Now, it's December, 2012, and the scenario shifts to Michigan, where the lame-duck legislature, poised to lose some GOP seats, undertook what's known as a right-to-work bill. This would prohibit unions from requiring members to pay dues.

Both the Michigan house and senate chambers passed the bill and Gov. Rick Snyder plans to sign it into law. As in Wisconsin, Michigan union members have descended on the capital, Lansing, with crowded rallies and vows of political action. Rick Pluta of Michigan Public Radio Networks says different union groups showed up.

The legislature opens its session today at 10 a.m. EST, according to the Detroit Free Press. Rick tells us despite the demonstrations, there's enough support to give the bill final passage.

And capitol police are ready, too. The Detroit News reports they've closed streets and state police troopers are carrying batons and tear gas devices. Last week, police used pepper spray to force union protesters out of the capitol, apparently after a few of them tried to rush the senate floor.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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