Impact of right-to-work will likely be delayed

6:20 PM, Dec 7, 2012   |    comments
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State Police block the entrance to the State Capitol in Lansing as protestors against Right To Work legislation wait to enter the building, Thursday, Dec. 6, 2012. (Courtesy: Mandi Wright/Detroit Free Press)

LANSING, Mich. (WZZM) -- Gov. Rick Snyder is expected to sign Michigan's new right to work legislation, perhaps as early as next week.  

Final passage of the bills could come Tuesday, when lawmakers return to session -- and another large organized labor protest is likely then.

The law would take effect on April 1, but would be implemented on a piecemeal basis as existing union contracts expire, according to Reuters.  For Michigan autoworkers, that expiration comes in September 2015.

Reuters reported the legislation has a so-called "grandfather" clause exempting existing union contracts until they expire, said Republican state Senator Arlan Meekhoff, a sponsor of the plan.

Major automakers General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler have a four-year contract with the United Auto Workers, which runs until Sept. 14, 2015, a spokeswoman for GM said.

"They can continue to operate just as they are until the next contract," said Bob Clark, a labor relations consultant and former Ford labor economist, who based his interpretation on the wording of the draft law.

Even if the bills become law, opponents are preparing for a long-term battle to defeat rright-to-work.

"I think you're gonna see any and all efforts to continue to fight this," says State Rep. Brandon Dillon, a Grand Rapids Democrat.  "This, as one of my colleagues said, was a declaration of war.  This is going to be just the beginning."

The West Michigan Policy Forum has made passage of right to work one of it's top priorities.  On Friday, it's executive director, Jared Rodriquez, said opponents are "gonna clog up the court system or at least try, and we would at least anticipate that they might wage some election battles."

One of those battles will be against Republican Gov. Rick Snyder, who Dillon said had been "exposed" by his support for the legislation.    

"The nerd without any real political motivation has been exposed for a right wing, partisan CEO, who takes orders from Dick DeVos," says Dillon.

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