Michigan conservatives claimed an unprecedented legislative victory with the final passage of right-to-work. The Great Lakes State is set to become the twenty-fourth with a workplace freedom law.

Republicans, who comfortably control both chambers, introduced and debated similar bills late last week. On Thursday, House members approved the bill by a 58-52 tally; the Senate followed suit, 22-16. Democrats staged a walk-out after their futile stall tactics, i.e. a string of hopeless amendments, failed, thus allowing a corresponding 22-4 vote concerning government-sector unionization.

In anticipation of the legislature’s decision, unrest over the democratic process arose. Anti-worker choice protesters – many of whom were bused in from Wisconsin, Illinois and Ohio – rushed the Capitol building. Whistles and drums added to the noise stemming from shouting adults near the House and Senate corridors. Police officers made eight arrests.

A grassroots effort  – led by Union Conservatives, Americans for Prosperity, and the Freedom to Work taskforce – played an integral part in bringing high-profile reform to the origin of Big Labor.

The consensus opinion is that leftist coalition leaders ultimately brought this political battle upon themselves. Union bosses namely of the United Auto Workers and Michigan Education Association, working directly with Democrat Party officials, were responsible for placing the inaptly dubbed ‘’Protect Our Jobs’’ proposal on the November ballot. The proposition, an attempted amendment to the state constitution, sought to grant unions ruling authority over elected representatives of the people. For all intents and purposes the Big Labor power-grab would have created a fourth branch of state-level government. Michiganders soundly rejected it, 58-42 percent, and opened the door for right-to-work.

UPDATE: After a five-day waiting period and a conference review as required by law, the legislature approved the law this afternoon. Governor Snyder, a moderate Republican who has expressed support for workplace freedom, signed the measure earlier this evening.

Nick Kowalski | Michigan State University | @NKowalski