From today’s Detroit Free Press:
Michigan House Democrats passed legislation Wednesday night over GOP objections to deliver on a key promise to union activists: repealing the state’s right-to-work law.
The law, established by Republicans in 2012, allows workers in unionized jobs to opt out of paying union dues and fees. Michigan — a state steeped in labor history — could become the first state in nearly 60 years to ditch its right-to-work law.
“It has done nothing but hurt hardworking Michiganders,” said bill sponsor state Rep. Regina Weiss, D-Oak Park. “It has allowed people who don’t pay union dues to take advantage of union benefits.”
Democrats championed their bills to repeal the law as a boon for workers’ rights that would strengthen unions and help reverse wealth inequality. “It gives union members their power back,” said state Rep. Jim Haadsma, D-Battle Creek, who chairs the House Labor Committee. “It restores balance in negotiations.”
Republican lawmakers countered that the legislation will harm Michigan’s economic competitiveness and make unions less responsive to workers’ needs.
“This is about forcing Michigan workers to join a union,” said House Minority Leader Matt Hall, R-Kalamazoo. “If a union is providing the value, then people will join.”
The legislation — House Bill 4004 and House Bill 4005 — both passed by a one-vote margin with all Democrats sticking together to support the measures.
HB 4004 would repeal right-to-work for public sector workers. A U.S. Supreme Court decision barring public sector unions from requiring employees covered by collective bargaining agreements to pay union dues renders HB 4004 unenforceable. But proponents of the bill want to change Michigan’s labor laws for public employees in the event the court overturns the decision.
Read the complete story here.