Republicans slammed right-to-work legislation through the Michigan House and Senate Thursday, drawing raucous protests from throngs of stunned union supporters, whose outnumbered Democratic allies were powerless to stop it.
Just hours after they were introduced, both chambers approved measures prohibiting private unions from requiring that nonunion employees pay fees. The Senate quickly followed by voting to impose the same requirement on most public unions.
Although rumors had circulated for weeks that right-to-work measures might surface during the session’s waning days, the speed with which the GOP-dominated Legislature acted Thursday caught many onlookers by surprise. Details of the bills weren’t made publicly available until they were read aloud on both floors as debate began.
The chaos drew raucous protests from hundreds of union supporters, some of whom were pepper-sprayed by police when they tried to storm the Senate chamber.
Contrary to what you may have heard, “right to work” laws do not outlaw unions. All this new Michigan law will do is prevent unions from deducting dues from the wages of non-union employees. Currently they can’t make you join the union but they can force you to pay dues anyway.
Workers should be free to form unions and bargain collectively. But no one should be forced to join a union or pay dues whether they join or not. That’s what “freedom of association” means.