Right-to-work:

Gov­er­nor signs mea­sures that unions call at­tacks.

Austin American-Statesman - - FRONT PAGE - By­J­ef­fKaroub andJohn Flesher

Michi­gan law­mak­ers give fi­nal ap­proval to right-to-work leg­is­la­tion, deal­ing a de­feat to or­ga­nized la­bor in a state that has been a cra­dle of the move­ment for gen­er­a­tions.

LANS­ING, MIch. — As the chants of pro­test­ers filled the Capi­tol, Michi­gan law­mak­ers gave fi­nal ap­proval Tues­day to right-to-work leg­is­la­tion, deal­ing a de­feat to or­ga­nized la­bor in a state that has been a cra­dle of the move­ment for gen­er­a­tions.

The Repub­li­can-dom­i­nated House ig­nored Democrats’ pleas to de­lay the pas­sage and in­stead ap­proved two bills with the same ef­fi­ciency as the Se­nate showed last week. One mea­sure dealt with pri­vate sec­tor work­ers, the other with government em­ploy­ees. Repub­li­can Gov. Rick Sny­der signed them within hours.

“This is about free­dom, fair­ness and equal­ity,” House Speaker Jase Bol­ger said dur­ing floor de­bate. “Th­ese are ba­sic Amer­i­can rights — rights that should unite us.”

Af­ter the vote, he said, Michi­gan’s fu­ture “has never been brighter, be­cause work­ers are free.”

Once the laws are en­acted, the state where the United Auto Work­ers was founded and la­bor has long been a po­lit­i­cal ti­tan will join 23 oth­ers with right-to-work laws, which ban re­quire­ments that nonunion em­ploy­ees pay unions for ne­go­ti­at­ing con­tracts and other ser­vices.

Sup­port­ers say the laws give work­ers more choice and sup­port eco­nomic growth, but crit­ics in­sist the real in­tent is to weaken or­ga­nized la­bor by en­cour­ag­ing work­ers to “freeload” by with­hold­ing money unions need to bargain ef­fec­tively with man­age­ment.

Pro­test­ers in the gallery chanted “Shame on you!” as the mea­sures were ap­proved. Union back­ers clogged the hall­ways and grounds shout­ing “No jus­tice, no peace,” and Democrats warned that hard feel­ings from the leg­is­la­tion and Repub­li­cans’ re­fusal to hold com­mit­tee hear­ings or al­low a statewide ref­er­en­dum would be long last­ing.

U.S. Sen. Carl Levin and other Democrats in the state’s con­gres­sional del­e­ga­tion met with Sny­der on Mon­day and urged him to slow things down.

“For mil­lions of Michi­gan work­ers, this is no or­di­nary de­bate,” Levin said. “It’s an as­sault on their right to have their elected bar­gain­ing agent ne­go­ti­ate their pay, ben­e­fits and work­ing con­di­tions, and to have all who ben­e­fit from such ne­go­ti­a­tions share in some way in the cost of ob­tain­ing them.”

JEff KOWALSKy / bLOOmbErg

Po­lice pro­tect a state of­fice build­ing as pro­test­ers hold a sit-in dur­ing a demon­stra­tion in Lans­ing, Mich., on Tues­day. Michi­gan law­mak­ers ap­proved right-to-work bills as thou­sands of pro­test­ers thronged the Capi­tol.

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