Against a backdrop of raucous protests in the Michigan capitol, Republican Gov. Rick Snyder signed into law controversial right-to-work legislation after final passage in the GOP-led state legislature.
The Michigan house passed two right-to-work laws earlier in the day - one focused on public sector workers, and one focused on private-sector workers - as protesters supporting unions chanted "shame on you" and "union busting is disgusting." The bills passed the Republican-led Michigan Senate last week, and Snyder signed them late Tuesday.
Right-to-work legislation, which is currently in place in 23 states, prevents agreements in which employees are required to pay union dues. American workers can't be forced to join unions, but many unions and companies have agreements in which all employees must pay union dues.
Right-to-work laws make such agreements illegal. Proponents say they give workers more freedom and are good for business; opponents say they are designed to shrink unions so they have less leverage in fighting for better wages, benefits and working conditions.
Though most protesters opposed right-to-work, there were some supporters present as well -- many affiliated with the conservative advocacy group Americans for Prosperity. The Michigan branch of that group said in a statement that the legislation reflected "a pro-growth policy that can and will help to turn Michigan's economy around." The tent erected by Americans for Prosperity at the protests was torn down by opponents of the legislation.
Before Snyder signed the legislation, Michigan state Rep. Douglas Geiss said Tuesday that "there will be blood" if they become law.
"We are going to undo 100 years of labor relations," Geiss said.CNN reports:
Jimmy Hoffa, president of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, said Tuesday he expects Michigan unions and lawmakers to break out into "civil war" after the state legislature passed right-to-work bills that would weaken unions' power.
This is just the first round of a battle that's going to divide this state. We're going to have a civil war," Hoffa said on CNN's "Newsroom."Hoffa previously referred to labor relations as "war" and said of his opponents: "Let's take these sons of bitches out."