Action on right-to-work legislation appears likely

It appears increasingly likely that so-called "right to work" legislation will be introduced in Michigan.

The Associated Press on Thursday obtained a list of "talking points" being distributed to GOP lawmakers. The document doesn't give details of what the proposed legislation would say, but it describes it as "freedom to work legislation."

It says right-to-work isn't retaliation against workers, but gives them a choice about whether to support a union or not.

Gov. Rick Snyder and the two top Republican legislative leaders - Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville and House Speaker Jase Bolger - have scheduled a news conference for Thursday. They've been meeting privately this week to decide whether to push the contentious issue during the waning days of the session.

Throngs of labor supports are chanting at the state Capitol. Union leaders say lawmakers should not pursue right-to-work legislation during the hectic lame duck session.

Michigan Laborer's, a union, opposes the right-to-work legislation.

"Michigan has real challenges, and this won't do anything to help create jobs or rebuild our economy," said Jonathan Byrd, of Michigan Laborers. "There are too many questions that need to be answered before we push so-called Right to Work legislation."

The National Federation of Independent Business supports the legislation, however.

"It would be the most important economic reform in decades and it would make Michigan immediately more competitive regionally, nationally, and internationally," said Charlie Owens, State Director for the NFIB. "Small business owners have waited years for this reform and they are geared up for the fight."

Owens also mentioned that over 75-percent of NFIB small business owners supported the Right to Work legislation in a 2009 survey.

"The [current] law tilts heavily in favor of the union bosses at the expense of workers and their employers," Owens said. "It gives them the power to coerce workers into paying dues that they wouldn't pay otherwise and it gives them incredible bargaining leverage that they wouldn't have on an even playing field."

Just last month, Michigan voters defeated Proposal 2, which would have guaranteed collective bargaining rights in the State Consitution and put a halt to the right-to-work legislation.

Democrats have tried to slow down the progression of right to work when today Senate Democratic Leader Gretchen Whitmer forced a vote aimed at causing the Senate to adjourn, but it failed.

The Michigan Republican Party released the following statement Thursday morning:

"Michigan workers deserve the upmost protections to ensure Michigan's economic recovery continues to move forward. Freedom in the workforce is common sense legislation that puts the interests of Michigan workers ahead of the interests of union bosses. The Workplace and Equity Fairness Act ensures that union membership is voluntary and no longer a forced-requirement."

The legislation will move through the Michigan House and Senate beginning today.