Right-to-work law passes in Michigan amid protests

The weakening of unions in the organized labor-heavy state is hotly contested

As of Tuesday, Michigan is now the 24th right-to-work state in the U.S. “Right-to-work” essentially means banning mandatory union membership from  workplaces, and for a state that’s known for its organized labor in the auto industry, this law will have a big impact. Michigan has the fifth-highest percentage of workers who belong to unions in the country—17.5 percent.

Michigan’s Republican-dominated House of Representatives approved a pair of bills—for private and public sector unions—on Tuesday, as more than 12,000 union workers and supporters protested in the state capital of Lansing. The protests turned ugly when the police got involved, donning riot gear, and in at least one case, using pepper spray to subdue the demonstrators.

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