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Right-to-work protest heats up

AP Wire • Jul 21, 2015 at 11:55 AM

The Republican-led Michigan House has approved a contentious right-to-work bill limiting unions' strength.

The measure approved Tuesday morning deals with public-sector workers. Another bill focusing on the private sector was approved last week, when the Senate OK'd both bills.

When final versions have cleared the House, they'll go to GOP Gov. Rick Snyder for his expected signature as early as Wednesday.

Passage followed numerous challenges and changes sought by Democrats as well as raucous protests inside and outside the Capitol from pro-union demonstrators. Thousands descended upon downtown Lansing to rally against the legislation that prohibits requiring nonunion employees to financially support unions at their workplace.

Backers say a right-to-work law would bring more jobs to Michigan and give workers freedom. Critics say it would drive down wages and benefits.

Earlier, protesters packed the state Capitol in Lansing, chanting and whooping as lawmakers prepared to take final votes on divisive right-to-work bills.

Hundreds of demonstrators packed all four levels of the rotunda Tuesday, chanting "Union!" and" What's disgusting? Union-busting!"

They stomped their feet and banged together hard hats.

The noise was deafening. At one point the crowd began loudly roaring, applauding themselves as the decibel levels grew.

A group of about 20 state troopers blocked the Senate chamber. Officers stared straight ahead, expressionless, as the crowd heckled them, demanding to be let in and shouting: "You're next."

The scene was calmer outside the House chamber, where another group of state police blocked the room. About a dozen protesters clustered around troopers, one mugging for a snapshot with an expressionless officer.

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