In Michigan
4:16 pm
Tue January 17, 2012

House could take up new union restrictions

LANSING, MI –

Republicans in the state Legislature have proposed new restrictions and penalties on some types of union activities. As we hear from Michigan Public Radio's Rick Pluta, union leaders say the measures mark a pattern of attacks on organized labor.

One of the measures would make it harder for unions to get dues deducted automatically from employee paychecks. Others would boost fines on public unions and workers who go on strike, and make it easier for employers to sue picketers for interfering with a business.

This is Republican state Representative Tom McMillan.

"We're just saying that we really mean it when it's illegal," he says.

But union leaders say strikes are already extremely rare -- it's been years since a public employee walkout.

Michigan AFL CIO attorney Mary Ellen Gurwitz says the measures are really about intimidation.

"It's a way of harassing the union," she says.

Gurwitrz says much of what's in these bills has been declared illegal by federal courts and she hinted at possible legal action if the measures are signed into law.