Right-to-Work Becomes Law in Michigan

Thousands protest in Lansing

By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff

Posted Dec 11, 2012 7:23 AM CST | Updated Dec 11, 2012 6:09 PM CST

(Newser) – It's a huge day for labor in Michigan. Gov. Rick Snyder has signed a pair of right-to-work bills that make it illegal to require the payment of union dues in order to work, the Detroit Free Press reports. The state's House of Representatives passed the bills earlier today. Some 12,500 people were in Lansing to protest—which may be the most demonstrators the state capitol has ever seen. "This is a national attack," United Auto Workers president Bob King declared, as the crowd beat drums and chanted. "Unions built the middle class of America."

Michigan was a surprise setting for the battle, the New York Times notes. Just last month, labor leaders were calling for collective bargaining to be written into the state Constitution. It seems to have backfired: Now, the UAW's home state is the 24th to ban required union dues—and a bellwether for future conservative efforts across the US. The battle comes after Snyder shifted position; the governor had once called the issue too thorny too address. Elsewhere:

  • President Obama had weighed in yesterday: "These so-called right-to-work laws, they don’t have to do with economics," he said. "They have everything to do with politics. What they’re really talking about is giving you the right to work for less money."
  • You can follow it all at the Free Press' live blog, or catch up on the background here.

Michigan State Police cruisers line the pedestrian walkway west of the state Capitol in Lansing, Mich., Monday, Dec. 10, 2012.
Michigan State Police cruisers line the pedestrian walkway west of the state Capitol in Lansing, Mich., Monday, Dec. 10, 2012.   (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)
Linda Erspamer stands with other members of the Michigan Nurses Association on the state Capitol steps in Lansing, Mich., Monday, Dec. 10, 2012,  protesting right-to-work legislation.
Linda Erspamer stands with other members of the Michigan Nurses Association on the state Capitol steps in Lansing, Mich., Monday, Dec. 10, 2012, protesting right-to-work legislation.   (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)
Michigan House Democrats and supporters stand in the office of House Democratic Leader Rick Hammel, center, in Lansing, Mich., Monday, Dec. 10, 2012, to denounce the state's right-to-work legislation.
Michigan House Democrats and supporters stand in the office of House Democratic Leader Rick Hammel, center, in Lansing, Mich., Monday, Dec. 10, 2012, to denounce the state's right-to-work legislation.   (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)
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