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Labor leaders tried to head off right-to-work

Lester Graham
Michigan Radio

Gov. Rick Snyder's 'not on my agenda' talk seemed to keep right-to-work legislation at bay, continually saying the issue was too divisive.

He had a change of heart yesterday.

Now, Michigan is on the fast-track to becoming the 24th state to adopt a right-to-work law.

Right-to-work laws ban requirements to pay dues or fees to a union as a condition of employment. Without compulsory payments in a closed union shop, unions stand to lose a lot of muscle.

The Detroit Free Press reports that the UAW's Bob King and other labor leaders tried to stop the legislation prior to yesterday's vote:

UAW President Bob King spent a lot of time in Lansing in recent days trying to prevent Gov. Rick Snyder and the Republican leadership from introducing right-to-work legislation but came up short. “Labor collectively felt like we put some really important proposals on the table about how we could work together … and about how can we de-escalate partisanship,” King told the Free Press today. “We are really disappointed that the governor and the Republican leadership chose the path that they did.”

In a separate piece, the Free Press reports that Snyder said the labor leaders didn't do enough, but he didn't provide specifics.

Snyder said there were concessions that organized labor could have put on the table that would have headed off the right-to-work legislation. But he wouldn't say what those concessions were or give any details of negotiations. Some right-to-work proponents said they were strongly opposed to carving out any exceptions in the law.

Under the legislation, police and firefighters will have to continue to pay union dues whether they like it or not.

But Snyder said police and firefighters would be excluded because of the dangerousness of their jobs and the need for a "special bond" among them. Bolger also cited special provisions given to the Michigan State Police in the state constitution and binding arbitration laws that apply to public safety workers.

Mark Brush was the station's Digital Media Director. He succumbed to a year-long battle with glioblastoma, an aggressive brain cancer, in March 2018. He was 49 years old.
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