LANSING, Mich. (WOOD) - The Michigan Senate and House passed separate right-to-work bills Thursday.
Two Senate bills passed Thursday evening: The first focused on the private sector and passed 22 to 16. The second focused on the public sector and passed 22 to 4.
Democrats drew out consideration of the the Senate's first bill for about three hours with long lectures and by proposing amendment after amendment, all of which were rejected by the GOP majority. Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer said Thursday that Democrats intended to make the process as long and painful as possible.
The second vote took only minutes as Democrats walked out.
Protestors in the gallery chanted "shame on you" as the Senate voted.
The House will likely take up those Senate bills next week. The first may be taken up immediately. The second will almost certainly be taken up Tuesday.
The House legislation passed late Thursday afternoon focused on private-sector workers and passed 58 to 52. The House also has two right-to-work bills, but passed only one.
The Senate's bills are the ones that will likely eventually make their way to the governor's desk, Political Reporter Rick Albin said. Thursday's House vote may have been more procedural or a show of support for the GOP's right-to-work push.
So-called right-to-work laws typically forbid unions from collecting dues from nonunion employees. Opponents say the policy weakens labor's ability to bargain for good wages, while supporters say it's good for business and job creation.
The Michigan legislation will cover both private and public sector workers -- which is why the House and Senate considering two bills each -- though an exception will be granted for police and firefighters.
Gov. Rick Snyder and the Republican-controlled Legislature's top two leaders said Thursday they will push for passage of all right-to-work legislation in the next few days.
"When it arrives on my desk, I plan on signing it," Snyder said at a Thursday press conference.
Political Reporter Rick Albin said that could be next week. If and when that happens, Michigan will be the 24th right-to-work state.
Snyder said during the press conference with Speaker Jase Bolger and Sen. Randy Richardville that right-to-work is about freedom for workers and is not meant to harm unions or collective bargaining.
"This not anti-union at all," he told 24 Hour News 8 after the conference. "It really creates an environment where, hopefully, unions will be more responsive to Michigan workers."
Sen. Whitmer disagreed. She said if Republicans were truly interested in a thoughtful public policy update, they would hold public hearings during the regular session for supporters of either side to make their case.
"What these guys are are cowards," she said. "They're trying to move this at the eleventh hour during a lame duck session. They'll probably do it when it's dark out when no one's in the Capitol."
Snyder said during the press conference it wasn't on his agenda previously because there were more pressing issues to deal with, but he says now is the time to move.
Snyder told 24 Hour News 8 Thursday that it was "time to step up," especially after Indiana became a right-to-work state in February.
"They're being extremely successful with getting companies to look into coming to their state now that they have right-to-work legislation in place," Snyder said.
Sen. Whitmer told 24 Hour News 8 she doesn't think right-to-work will help Michigan, calling the notion that it would "baloney."
"They've got higher unemployment. They've got smaller per capita income. They've got more people on welfare," she said of Indiana. "Is that what Rick Snyder wants for Michigan?"
If passed, the legislation would be perhaps the most sweeping policy change since the Michigan Constitutional Convention in 1964, one longtime Lansing insider told 24 Hour News 8.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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