As Michigan’s right-to-work legislation heads back for a final vote on Tuesday, unions and legislative opponents of the law say that the battle is not over—even if there’s not much they can do to stop the bill from passing.
The bills, separate versions of which were passed last week in the house and senate, are sitting through a five-day waiting period before they can be reconciled.
Democratic Dearborn Sen. Morris Hood said that the expectation in Lansing is that the Senate-approved versions of the bills will go over to the house for approval on Tuesday.
“At this point, (senators) don’t have a large course of action in which we can do besides continue to lobby on behalf of our contingent and still have a process before it goes to the house,” he said Friday. “There is some time for things to be done, but we don’t know to what level it will be received.”
Hood urged residents to continue to fight to be part of the legislative process.
Dearborn UAW Local 600 members are taking that message to heart.
According to the Detroit Free Press, Local 600 hosted a training for hundreds of union members Saturday aimed at educating them about constructive ways to protest.
President Bernie Ricke said Friday that their chapter had more than 100 members protesting at the Capitol on Thursday, and are planning an even bigger outcry on Tuesday.
“It’s a very important issue to us, but we knew it has been on the back burner for some time,” he said, adding that union members mobilized quickly once they heard that right-to-work was being pushed through and would be signed into law by Gov. Rick Snyder.
Snyder announced his support for the legislation—which would essentially prohibit the requirement of a worker to pay union dues as a condition of employment—on Thursday. In a Pure Michigan ad published on YouTube, he says his decision to pursue such legislation is "about being pro-work and giving workers the freedom to choose who they associate with."
By 8 p.m. that evening, the house and the senate had approved separate right-to-work bills. Votes fell mostly along party lines, with heavy GOP support.
A protest raged on all day Thursday at the Capitol, where an estimated 2,500 union members and supporters from all across the state rallied against right-to-work.
“I think you’re going to see a lot more people on Tuesday than you did this week,” Ricke predicted.
He added that unions felt that the sudden push for the bills—which had been stalled since 2011—was a planned-out tactic, and that unions hope to see it challenged.
“I believe there will be some legal challenges because of the way they did it,” he said. “I’m sure (legislators) are looking at a lot of options, because it definitely wasn’t done democratically.
“We’ll move forward and do whatever we can to repeal it.”
According to the Detroit Free Press, a union activist out of Highland Park has already filed a lawsuit over right-to-work, stating that legislators violated the Open Meetings Act by barring protesters from the Capitol for a brief period on Thursday.
Sen. Hood could not confirm that the course of action by senate and house Democrats would be to put up a legal challenge if the bills are passed.
“I haven’t been in conversations … but that’s not to say that’s not a discussion,” he said, adding that a legal challenge would likely be something decided upon by Democratic minority leaders in the house and senate.
Hood’s focus right now—like union members—is to fight until Snyder’s signature is on the paper.
“It’s not over until its over,” Hood said. “The governor has not signed it into law, so I still am having hope … that there’s still some small chance that it could happen. So we’ll still keep shooting for that.”
UAW local chapters from around Dearborn and the downriver area will be sending a number of busses to Lansing on Tuesday for the rally. For more information, see the contact sheet attached to this article.