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Michigan takes giant step toward becoming Right to Work state

December 7, 2012

The Michigan House and Senate Thursday moved three bills giving workers greater freedom to opt out of unions.  The package of bills includes both public and private unions, and only exempts police and fire workers operating under P.A. 312, a 40-year-old law that gives them the right to collectively bargain.

The vote in both chambers (Senate:  22-16, House: 58-52) was the biggest hurdle the bills will face.  The Legislature is scheduled to finish the job on Tuesday, Dec. 11 by concurring on each other’s bills and sending a pair of bills to Gov. Rick Snyder before the holiday recess.  The governor announced during a press conference held Thursday that he would sign the bills.

Specifically, the bills stipulate that “An individual shall not be required as a condition of obtaining or continuing employment to do any of the following . . . become or remain a member of a labor union”.  That is, a worker cannot be required to pay any union dues, fees or assessments to a labor organization.   Any contract that mandates dues or fees as a condition of employment would, therefore, be “unlawful and unenforceable.”

The bill also appropriates $1 million for the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs in order to respond to public questions, provide staff to implement the new act and inform employees and labor organizations of the change. The appropriation effectively makes the bill referendum proof under the state’s Constitution.

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