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Mich. Senate approves right-to-work legislation

Dec 7th, 2012 - State News

The Michigan House and Senate voted Thursday to approve a bill barring unions from collecting mandatory fees from non-members. Republican Governor Rick Snyder also endorsed it Thursday.

Hundreds of chanting and cheering protesters streamed back into the Michigan Capitol after receiving a court order saying that the building must reopen.

The pro-union crowd walked in as lawmakers were debating right-to-work legislation limiting union powers. The Republican-led House subsequently passed the bill with no Democratic support.

They rejoined other protesters who were in the building when police temporarily closed it hours earlier because of safety concerns.

State police Inspector Gene Adamczyk says a judge ordered the Capitol reopened and authorities did so despite safety concerns.

Many of the protesters chanted "Whose house? Our house!" and stomped as they ringed the Rotunda.

Police earlier arrested eight people who tried to run into the Senate while it was in session.

— The Michigan Senate has passed right-to-work legislation, following earlier approval by the House.

The bills would prohibit unions from collecting fees from nonunion workers, which opponents say would weaken organized labor's ability to bargain for good wages while supporters say it would boost jobs.

A measure dealing with private-sector workers passed on a 22-16 vote Thursday after hours of impassioned debate. Four Republicans joined all 12 Democrats in opposition.

Moments after it passed, the Senate passed a bill with similar provisions for government employees. Democrats walked out before the bill was approved on a 22-4 vote.

Union activists repeatedly shouted protests from the gallery and cheered Democrats who denounced the measure.

Governor Rick Snyder and GOP legislative leaders announced earlier Thursday they would put right-to-work on a fast track.

Michigan House Democrats say they walked out as the Republican-led chamber was debating a right-to-work bill to help push for the Capitol to reopen and allow throngs of protesters inside.

House Democratic spokeswoman Katie Carey said Thursday that party members left after an Ingham County judge ordered the building reopened. They sought to persuade Capitol authorities to reverse their decision to close the building as a safety measure.

Michigan State Police officials say they were waiting to see the order before they reopened.

Once the pro-union group was allowed to rejoin other protesters, Democrats returned to the House to vote against the bill. They were unsuccessful in overcoming the GOP majority for the union-limiting legislation.

The judge's order was sought by Michigan Education Association President Steve Cook and others.

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