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Protests Rage as Michigan Lawmakers Approve Anti-Union Bills

December 11, 2012
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Source: Truth-Out

Michigan lawmakers gave final approval to historic anti-union legislation on Tuesday as thousands of workers and activists joined in rowdy protests at the state Capitol in Lansing.

The Republican-led House passed a bill by a vote of 58-51 that would make payment of union dues voluntary for public workers such as teachers even though unions advocate on their behalf. The House went on to pass a similar bill for private-sector workers by a 58-52 vote.

Democratic lawmakers attempted to have both votes reconsidered, but their efforts failed.

Meanwhile, about 10,000 protesters gathered outside government offices in the state Capitol, chanting "shame on you" and demanding that Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder show his face.

Snyder, a Republican, is expected to sign the legislation into law this week, making Michigan the 24th state to adopt so-called "right-to-work" laws and dealing a major blow to the labor movement in a state steeped in rich union history.

Republicans and right-to-work proponents argue that workers should not be required to pay union dues, but labor advocates point out that all workers benefit from collective bargaining on their behalf regardless of whether they pay dues. Unions and President Obama have referred to right to work as "the right to work for less money."

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