Michigan expected to pass 'right-to-work' bill

Labor unions gather for massive protests

NEW YORK - The Michigan legislature is set to take up and likely pass a controversial "right-to-work" bill aimed at organized labor on Tuesday.

Several prominent Michigan Democrats met with Republican Gov. Rick Snyder on Monday in an effort to convince him not to sign the bill, which cleared some legislative hurdles last week.

On Tuesday, labor unions gathered for massive protests at the Michigan Statehouse in Lansing as the Assembly and Senate began to take final action on the legislation.

But with Republicans holding a strong majority in both chambers, passage is considered virtually certain.

The bill would allow workers at union-represented employers to not pay dues even though the union would be bargaining on their behalf.

Advocates of the bill say it will help attract businesses to the state, but critics say that it would weaken labor's bargaining strength by cutting union financial resources without doing anything to bring in more jobs.

There are 23 states which have the right-to-work laws, mostly in the South and western Plains states, where union membership is relatively weak. Michigan, where 17.5 percent of the workers are represented by unions, would be by far the most heavily unionized state to pass such legislation.

The Democrats, including Sen. Carl Levin and seven members of the House delegation, said afterward that Snyder told them he would "seriously consider" their concerns about the bill. But Snyder has praised the measure, saying it would help attract jobs and provide choice to workers.

Snyder's office did not have an immediate comment on his view of the meeting with the Democrats. But a spokesman for Jase Bolger, speaker of the Michigan House, mocked the idea of Congressional Democrats pushing for a delay on the bill.

"Congressional Democrats are trying to tell Republicans in Michigan to slow down and not do ourjob in Lansing while they fail to resolve the nation's fiscal cliff crisis or even approve a budget," said Ari Adler, the speaker's spokesman. "Maybe they should spend less time lecturing others and focus on getting their own jobs done first."

Snyder told CNN on Friday that he had already had a lot of discussion on the issue with labor leaders and Democrats, and that he will sign the bill when it reaches his desk.

"I had said right-to-work was not on my agenda," he told CNN. "It's a divisive issue, and we had higher priorities. What was happening after the election, this issue was coming up whether I wanted it or not. I'm ready to sign."

-- CNN's Poppy Harlow contributed to this report.

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