GOP senator decries right-to-work rush

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — One of four Republican state senators who voted against their party leaders' push to make Michigan a right-to-work state says he objects to the rush to pass the legislation.

Sen. Tory Rocca of Sterling Heights says "legislators should actually read the legislation" they vote on. He tells that lawmakers didn't get to see the bill until minutes before the voting started Thursday.

The Republican-controlled state Senate and House held no hearings before passing the bill, which bars unions from collecting mandatory fees from nonmembers they represent under collective bargaining agreements. The House and Senate are expected to put finishing touches as early as Tuesday. Gov. Rick Snyder has said he will sign them.

Other Republican senators voting no were Tom Casperson of Escanaba, Mike Green of Mayville and Mike Nofs of Battle Creek. All Democrats votes no, and the final vote was 22-16 in favor.

Meanwhile, labor unions and their Democratic allies acknowledge there's virtually no chance of preventing right-to-work legislation from being enacted in Michigan this week. But they're planning to fight to the end -- and seek payback at the polls.

Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker, a Republican, has received a bag of coal from union-rights demonstrators protesting her pro-right-to-work. About 60 people sang Christmas-themed protest songs and carried picket signs Sunday outside Schuitmaker's Kalamazoo office. reports that one protest sign said Gov. Rick Snyder is "tearing Michigan apart." Others said "Right 2 Work Hurts Working Families" and "Protect Working Families."

Schuitmaker said in a statement that the right-to-work bills "will dramatically improve the landscape of our state's economy once enacted."

Right-to-work supporters say it's about improving the business climate and giving employees freedom of association. But unions say such laws bleed them of money and power to bargain for good wages and benefits.

Thousands of protesters are expected to converge on the state Capitol in Lansing this week.

-- John Flesher of the Associated Press contributed to this report.

Copyright 2014 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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Michigan (change)

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.
Offices & Officials

Governor: Rick Snyder
Lieutenant Governor: Brian Calley
Attorney General: Bill Schuette
Secretary of State: Ruth Johnson

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