Members of the Michigan House quickly voted in favor of a new bill Thursday evening that would make Michigan a right-to-work state, as Democratic representatives left the floor in protest. The legislation passed on a vote of 58-52 in the House and is currently being voted upon in the state Senate.
The legislation was attached to existing bills in the House and Senate to bypass rules requiring new bills sit in each chamber for five days, according to the Detroit News.
Calling it a measure to protect “freedom in the workplace,” Gov. Rick Snyder (R) finally voiced his support for controversial right-to-work legislation in Michigan. If it passes, the bill would prevent any Michigan company from signing labor agreements requiring mandatory dues payment by employees in union workplaces.
Protesters who rallied against the right-to-work legislation were barred from entering the Capitol building, with at least eight protesters arrested and crowds maced by Michigan State Police. House Democrats walked off the floor to protest the Capitol not being opened to the public, despite an injunction by an Ingham County Court judge, according to the Detroit Free Press.
Michigan legislators introduced the new bill earlier this morning, tentatively called a “Workplace Equity And Fairness Act,” that would cover all public and private workers except for police and fire departments.
Snyder’s pledge to sign right-to-work into law follows an announcement Tuesday in which the governor reversed his long-time stance of discouraging Republican lawmakers from moving forward with the legislation. It also comes just about a month after Michigan voters declined to pass Proposal 2, which would have enshrined collective bargaining rights in the state constitution. Snyder had actively campaigned against passing the measure.