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Bill to get rid of public employer-paid union release time passes state Senate

michigan state capitol building in lansing, mi
Lester Graham
/
Michigan Radio
Lawmakers in Lansing may have to cut revenue sharing with local governments to fill the $1.8 billion budget hole.

The Michigan state Senate passed legislation Tuesday that Democrats and others call anti-union. The bills would prevent public employers from paying employees while they conduct union business.

Proponents say taxpayer dollars shouldn’t go toward union business.

Senator Marty Knollenberg (R-Troy) is a bill sponsor.

“If a person is doing union business, then a union should pay for it. And so I’m not suggesting that they can’t take leave time, I just don’t think taxpayers should be paying for that. That’s really what it comes down to,” says Knollenberg.

Opponents say the legislation seeks to weaken unions and make it harder for them to work with their members.

Senator Vincent Gregory (D-Lathrup Village) is a former union leader. He says the legislation tries to solve a problem that doesn’t exist.

If there was an issue, if there was a problem, if there was something, then I’m sure we would all hear about it, if there was a problem with this labor. But we haven’t heard about it. This is something that’s being created – and as I said, it’ll just create more of a problem,” says Gregory.

The bill has multiple exemptions carved out – for people like police and firefighters – and will mainly impact public school employees.

Before becoming the newest Capitol reporter for the Michigan Public Radio Network, Cheyna Roth was an attorney. She spent her days fighting it out in court as an assistant prosecuting attorney for Ionia County. Eventually, Cheyna took her investigative and interview skills and moved on to journalism. She got her masters at Michigan State University and was a documentary filmmaker, podcaster, and freelance writer before finding her home with NPR. Very soon after joining MPRN, Cheyna started covering the 2016 presidential election, chasing after Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, and all their surrogates as they duked it out for Michigan. Cheyna also focuses on the Legislature and criminal justice issues for MPRN. Cheyna is obsessively curious, a passionate storyteller, and an occasional backpacker. Follow her on Twitter at @Cheyna_R
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