Michigan Gov. Snyder signs right-to-work bills

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder has signed right-to-work legislation, which makes paying union dues optional for public and private sector workers in Michigan.

He put his signatures on the bills Tuesday, hours after the state House passed the measures as the chants of thousands of angry pro-union protesters filled the Capitol.

Snyder says a failed ballot proposal to enshrine collective bargaining rights in the constitution triggered the discussion that led to the passage and signing of right-to-work.

During a news conference, he called the protests "an exercise in democracy."

Representative Frank Foster, R-Petoskey, voted in favor of Senate Bill 116 and House Bill 4003, which make paying union dues optional for public and private sector workers in Michigan.

"This landmark reform is freeing Michigan workers from forced union membership," said Foster. "The Freedom to Work legislation encourages individual freedom while allowing unions to remain a strong partner in the workplace because people's collective bargaining rights are in no way affected or being diminished."

Foster says this law empowers Michigan's families to make decisions that put them in control of their own lives and careers.

Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich, criticized Gov. Snyder for his change of heart regarding the legislation.

"For millions of Michigan workers, this is no ordinary debate. It's an assault on their right to have their elected bargaining agent negotiate their pay, benefits and working conditions, and to have all who benefit from such negotiation share in some way in the cost of obtaining them."

Michigan Republican Party Chairman Bobby Shostak called this day a win for Michigan workers.

"For the first time, Michigan workers will have the choice to decide whether to join a union, or not."

Congressman Bill Huizenga (MI-02) released the following statement:

"Today, Michigan becomes the 24th state to give Americans the freedom to work. I applaud Governor Snyder and my former colleagues in Lansing for passing this legislation that gives Michigan families more control over their lives and makes Michigan a more attractive place for businesses to locate. These pro-worker laws will now allow Michigan workers, some of the most skilled in the nation, to thrive in a more competitive climate."

The Freedom to Work measures do not apply to law enforcement personnel and firefighters, who are covered under the arbitration of Public Act 312.