Pro-labor bills clear final passage in Michigan

Both chambers of the Michigan Legislature advanced more pro-labor legislation this week, with two bills being ordered for enrollment and two more now heading to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer for her expected signature.

House Bill 4004 and Senate Bill 34 will repeal the state’s Right to Work laws for both public and private sector employees, respectively. HB 4004 returned to the Senate for a substitute before clearing the House along party lines, and will now head to Whitmer’s desk; while SB 34 was adopted by the House along party-line votes and was ordered enrolled by the Senate.

House Bill 4007 and Senate Bill 6 will restore and enforce the practice of prevailing wage, which requires union wages to be paid for all state projects. A Senate substitute of HB 4007 was adopted along party lines in the House on Tuesday and is now en route to Whitmer’s desk; SB 6 was also adopted along party lines in the House before being returned and enrolled in the Senate.

“This legislation simply does one thing: It pays the workers what they’re worth,” state Rep. Abraham Aiyash, D-Hamtramck, said on the prevailing wage bills.

“We are using taxpayer money to say (that) when we are going to build public projects or we’re going to build big construction projects, people deserve to be paid a living wage, and that those people should be qualified and that they’re trained and that they have the right qualifications to do the damn job. … I know it’s a radical idea,” Aiyash continued.

“We don’t need scabs from Ohio. We don’t need scabs from Tennessee or Texas. We want Michigan workers to do Michigan projects. And that’s exactly what this bill is about.”

The Senate version of prevailing wage, SB 6, includes a $75,000 appropriation that shields it from the possibility of a voter referendum. The 2012 Right to Work law signed by GOP former Gov. Rick Snyder also contained an appropriation, rendering citizens unable to repeal it.

House Minority Leader Matt Hall, R-Richland Township, excoriated the House version of prevailing wage legislation, claiming that it would “weaponize LEO (Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity)” to “intimidate” small businesses into compliance.

“As Michigan struggles to compete for businesses and high-paying careers, Democrats are dead set on pushing forward their pay cut plan that would set our state, our workers, and our economy further behind,” Hall said in a statement. ” … Democrats are once again putting union bosses first and the people of Michigan last.”

Many Republican lawmakers on Tuesday attempted to tack on various amendments to the four bills, which were all defeated.

The controversial right-to-work legislation was signed by Snyder in 2012. It allowed workers to get union benefits without having to pay dues.

In 2018, the GOP-led Legislature also approved an initiative repealing prevailing wage for contracted workers on state projects.

Both sets of laws have been targets for Michigan Democrats ever since — and with Democrats now controlling both chambers of the state Legislature for the first time in decades, lawmakers are making quick work of their reversal.

Since the four bills passed Tuesday without a single Republican vote, none were able to pass with immediate effect. Without this, they are expected to go into effect by April 2024.

“We applaud the Legislature for getting this done today, delivering a huge and historic victory for workers across the state,” said Ron Bieber, president of Michigan AFL-CIO.


Michigan Advance is part of States Newsroom, a national 501(c)(3) nonprofit. For more, go to https://michiganadvance.com/.


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