Republicans rushed right-to-work legislation through the Michigan Legislature Thursday, drawing raucous protests from hundreds of union supporters, some of whom were pepper-sprayed by police when they tried to storm the Senate chamber.
With six-vote margins in both chambers, the House and Senate approved measures prohibiting private unions from requiring that nonunion employees pay fees. The Senate was debating a similar bill, with Democrats denouncing it as an attack on worker rights and the GOP sponsor insisting it would boost the economy and jobs. Separate legislation dealing with public-sector unions was expected to come later.
Because of rules requiring a five-day delay between votes in the two chambers on the same legislation, final enactment appears unlikely until next week. Republican Gov. Rick Snyder, who previously had said repeatedly that right-to-work was "not on my agenda," told reporters Thursday he would sign the measures.
A victory in Michigan would give the right-to-work movement its strongest foothold yet in the Rust Belt region, where organized labor already has suffered several body blows.
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