Unions prepare for protests, legal challenges over 'right-to-work' push

Michigan Education Association President Steve Cook tells Alan about the fight over new anti-union legislation.


Union members and supporters are gearing up for a massive protest Tuesday in Michigan's capital in a last-ditch effort to stall the expected passage of "right-to-work" legislation, as they already make plans to challenge the proposal in court. 

The surprise move by Michigan Republicans this past Thursday to approve the anti-union bills touched off a firestorm in the home of the U.S. auto industry. Following high-profile fights over union privileges in Wisconsin and Indiana, Michigan in an instant became the latest battleground in that struggle. 

The state legislature returns to Lansing on Tuesday, when Republicans are planning to cast the final votes on the union package and send it to Gov. Rick Snyder's desk. Snyder, a Republican, has said he would sign the bill, which prohibits unions from demanding dues from workers. 

If this happens, Michigan would become the 24th "right-to-work" state in the nation -- and American unions would suffer a stinging defeat in the cradle of the labor movement. Union bosses made clear they won't go down without a fight. 

"It's an attack on working families, and we're gonna be there. We're not gonna stand for it," Bernie Ricke, president of the United Auto Workers Local 600, said, according to MyFoxDetroit

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According to MyFoxDetroit, members of Local 600 in Dearborn met Saturday to plan for the massive Tuesday demonstration, even going through a practice protest run with some members pretending to be Tea Partiers in support of "right-to-work" legislation. 

The scene on Tuesday is likely to be raucous. Protests first erupted on Thursday, when Republicans fast-tracked bills through the House and Senate. 

Though Republicans control the capital and have the votes to send the bill to Snyder's desk, opponents are planning to mount a legal challenge should that happen. Given the rapid manner with which the bills moved and the fact some demonstrators were kept out of the chambers, Democrats say they'll challenge under open-meetings laws. 

The Detroit Free Press also reports that Democrats could try and challenge a provision that exempts police and firefighters. 

However, any attempt to bring the proposal to referendum is complicated by the fact that the bill contained an appropriation -- and under Michigan law, appropriations bills cannot be challenged by popular vote. 

In order to bring the "right-to-work" bill to referendum, supporters would have to first prove the appropriation to be somehow invalid or inappropriate. 

Opponents could also launch recall campaigns against targeted Republicans in retaliation, as they did in Wisconsin following a vote that cracked down on collective bargaining. 

Snyder, though, said he's "not picking a fight." 

"I feel this is solving an issue for Michigan workers. We have hardworking people in Michigan and this is about giving workers choice," he said. 

Michigan unions see this weakening their foundation. 

"You will have people that will be working right alongside of you that will not have to pay union dues as you pay union dues, but will still be able to get all the benefits from being a union member," UAW member Gloria Keyes told Fox News. 

Meanwhile, police are gearing up for Tuesday's demonstration in Lansing. 

"We want to keep things safe. We will not have another Wisconsin in Michigan. People have a right to protest, but it will be done in an orderly manner," Michigan State Police Inspector Gene Adamczyk said. 

Fox News' Mike Tobin contributed to this report.