Michigan legislature gives final approval to right-to-work bills
Updated On: Dec 11 2012 02:28:01 PM EST
The Michigan legislature has given final approval to right-to-work bills limiting unions.
The Michigan House approved two bills Tuesday that would weaken union power in the historical labor stronghold as hundreds of protesters rallied at the Capitol.
The Republican-dominated chamber passed a measure dealing with public-sector workers 58-51 as protesters shouted "shame on you" from the gallery and huge crowds of union backers massed in the state Capitol halls and on the grounds.
A second bill focusing on private sector employees also passed 58-52.
The Senate approved both last week.
Democrats immediately sought to have the vote reconsidered but failed in that effort.
Gov. Rick Snyder says he will sign them into law as early as Wednesday.
--Gov. Rick Snyder
When enacted, Michigan will become the 24th right-to-work state, banning requirements that nonunion employees pay unions for negotiating contracts and other services.
Thousands use voice for, against right-to-work
Even with the outcome considered a foregone conclusion, the heated battle showed no sign of cooling as lawmakers prepared to cast final votes.
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Hundreds of protesters flooded the state Capitol hours before the House and Senate convened, chanting and whistling in the chilly darkness. Others joined a three-block march to the building, some wearing coveralls and hard hats.
Sen. John Proos, a Republican from St. Joseph who voted for the right-to-work bills last week, said opponents had a right to voice their anger but predicted it would fade as the shift in policy brings more jobs to Michigan.
"As they say in sports, the atmosphere in the locker room gets a lot better when the team's winning," he said.
Democratic lawmakers and union backers conceded they had little chance of stopping the tide, with Republicans dominating the Legislature and Snyder pledging to sign the measures into law.
President speaks out while in Michigan
Criticism of the legislation has come from all the way up the Democratic food chain.
"These so-called right-to-work laws, they don't have anything to do with economics, they have everything to do with politics," Obama told cheering workers Monday during a visit to an engine plant in Redford, Mich. "What they're really talking about is giving you the right to work for less money."
U.S. Sen. Carl Levin and members of the state's U.S. House delegation met with Snyder on Monday in Detroit and urged him to veto the legislation or amend it to allow a statewide referendum. Levin said the governor pledged to "seriously consider" the requests.
Ari Adler, spokesman for Michigan House Speaker Jase Bolger, chided those in Washington for "trying to tell Republicans in Michigan to slow down and not do our job in Lansing while they fail to resolve the nation's fiscal cliff crisis or even approve a budget."