LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Here are five things to know about right-to-work legislation approved by the Michigan Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Rick Snyder:
THE NAME IS MISLEADING
It isn't about a right to work but rather a right for workers to choose whether they want to join a union or pay fees that amount to union dues. The legislation prohibits what are known as "closed shops," where workers have no choice but to join a union or pay those fees.
IT MOVED SWIFTLY
The GOP majority used its superior numbers and backing from Gov. Rick Snyder to ramrod legislation through the House and Senate last week. They brushed aside denunciations and challenges by helpless Democrats and cries of outrage from thousands of union activists who swarmed the state Capitol hallways and grounds. Snyder signed the bills into law Tuesday, hours after the final House votes.
BUT DIDN'T OVER EASILY
Supporters, including Republican leaders in the Legislature and the Michigan Chamber of Commerce, insist it's about freedom of association for workers and a better business climate. Critics, including Democrats and Michigan's sizable labor contingent, contend the real intent is to bleed unions of money and bargaining power and allow nonunion workers to get the perks without paying for it. Thousands protested at the Michigan Capitol, but even they acknowledged before the final votes that it would inevitably become law.
IT'S NOT THE FIRST
Michigan becomes the 24th state with such laws. Victory in the Great Lakes State gives the right-to-work movement its strongest foothold yet in the Rust Belt region, where organized labor already has suffered several body blows. Republicans in Indiana and Wisconsin recently pushed through legislation curbing union rights, sparking long, massive protests.