LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Union members demonstrated loudly Wednesday at the Capitol in Lansing, where state legislators may be preparing to consider so-called "right-to-work" legislation.
Gov. Rick Snyder and leaders in the Republican-controlled Legislature are considering introducing right-to-work legislation that would limit unions' ability to collect fees from nonunion workers.
Snyder told reporters Tuesday that right-to-work legislation is now "on the agenda" but no bills have been introduced.
Rumors have swirled that majority Republicans might try to push through legislation in the session's closing days that would bar unions from collecting dues from non-members. Opponents say it's an effort to drain unions of money and weaken their effectiveness. Supporters say right-to-work policy boosts the economy and jobs.
Hundreds of labor supporters have packed the rotunda area Wednesday, blowing whistles and chanting slogans such as "Union busters" and "We are Michigan." State police and Capitol security officers are on hand. The protest hasn't disrupted House and Senate work sessions in their respective chambers.
Also Wednesday, Democrats in Michigan's House and Senate said Republicans and Gov. Rick Snyder will pay a political price if they push right-to-work legislation to enactment in the waning days of the session.
Republicans hold solid majorities in both chambers and don't need Democratic votes to pass bills. But in a news conference Wednesday at the state Capitol in Lansing
, Democratic leaders said they'll use all legal means to resist legislation that prohibits unions from collecting fees from nonunion workers.
With an audience of cheering union members,
Senate Democratic leader Gretchen Whitmer said so-called "right-to-work" laws are really meant to weaken unions and drive down wages and benefits for the middle class.
A poll says a majority of Michigan voters favor right-to-work laws but are evenly split about whether Michigan should become the nation's 24th right-to-work state.
The EPIC-MRA poll says 54 percent of Michigan voters generally favor right-to-work laws, with 40 percent opposed. But when asked how they feel about Michigan becoming a right-to-work state, 47 percent are in favor and 46 percent are opposed.
The statewide phone survey of 600 likely voters was conducted Nov. 27 through Nov. 29 and has margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.
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Michigan is governed as a republic, with three branches of government: executive, legislative and judicial. The state also allows direct participation of the electorate by initiative, referendum, recall, and ratification.