Brian Gornick, Staff Writer
Courtesy of KTTN
The Democrat-led Michigan House approved legislation on Wednesday to repeal the state’s right-to-work law that was approved over a decade ago when Republicans controlled the Statehouse.
The vote occurred after an hour and a half of testimony from both Democratic and Republican legislators in front of four packed committee rooms in Lansing Wednesday morning.
The House also voted to reinstate Michigan’s prevailing wage law, which would require contractor companies hired by the state for projects to pay union-level wages. The prevailing wage law was repealed in June 2018 by the GOP-led Legislature through a petition initiative in order to bypass the veto of Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, who did not approve of the repeal.
Proponents of both bills audibly cheered when the House approved both pieces of legislation among party lines, with 56 in favor and 53 against.
Under the original right-to-work law passed in 2013, Michigan prohibited union-service agreements that required employees to pay union dues as a condition of being employed by a company. The bill was signed by then-Gov. Snyder after it moved quickly through the GOP-controlled Legislature. Repealing the law would allow employers to require employees to pay union dues or service fees in order to be employed.
Democratic lawmakers such as state Rep. Joey Andrews argued in committee that the right-to-work law allows ‘freeloaders’ to gain from the benefits the unions provide while not paying any of the dues that allow the union to do its job effectively.
Republicans' counter argument was that the new bill would go against the will of the people; in 2012 57% of Michigan voters rejected a proposed amendment to the Michigan Constitution that would enshrine collective bargaining rights into the state’s constitution.
Debates are expected to continue through the coming week, as the Michigan Senate must also pass the bill, which then will be sent to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s office for signature and passage into law.