Battle over the power of organized labor continues - FOX 10 News | myfoxphoenix.com

Battle over the power of organized labor continues

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WASHINGTON -

Michigan is now the focus of what has become a national battle over the power of organized labor.

Lawmakers and the Governor there are poised to make Michigan the 24th right to work state in the country, telling unions that they can no longer force workers to pay dues.

There have already been protests outside and inside of Michigan's state capitol building, but this may be just a fraction of what we see on Tuesday.

There may be no other state closer to the heart of organized labor and union leaders fear that if a right to work law can pass there, it could happen anywhere -- gutting union power.

"You will have people that will be working right along side 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," said United Auto Workers member Gloria Keyes.

President Obama added his voice to the debate during a visit to the Detroit area Monday.

"I just gotta say this, what we shouldn't do is be trying to take away your rights to bargain for better wages or working conditions."

But the proposed Michigan law does not actually prevent collective bargaining -- instead, it stops unions from forcing workers to pay dues and with a GOP Governor and a largely Republican legislature, it will almost certainly pass.

Part of it, supporters say, has to do with workplace fairness for workers.

"This is solely focused on their relationship and shouldn't people have the opportunity to say if they want to belong or not. The second piece is I think this could be good for economic development for more and better jobs coming to Michigan," said Gov. Rick Snyder.

Police in Lansing, meantime, are bracing for thousands of angry protesters Tuesday as the legislation moves forward.

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