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Mich. Proposal Limits Automatic Dues to Teachers' Unions

Michigan Republicans are trying to ban school districts from arranging automatic paycheck deductions for teachers' union dues, in what amounts to the latest clash between organized labor and conservative lawmakers around the country.

The measure, House Bill 4929, was narrowly approved Thursday by Michigan's House of Representatives, by a 55-53 vote. It has yet to be taken up by the state Senate.

"This legislation empowers school employees when dealing with their unions," said Michigan House Speaker Jase Bolger, a Republican, whose party controls both legislative chambers. "Just like other professionals, they should be able to ask what their hard-earned money is being used for before turning it over to an organization."

He said lawmakers have heard from teachers who aren't happy with how union leaders are using their dues, adding, "[W]e need to make sure our public schools stay out of the middle of collecting union dues."

The measure is opposed by the Michigan Education Association, a teachers' union. And Democratic state Representative Kate Segal described the measure as "unnecessary and impractical."

"[The] bill will dismantle a system that is simple, fair, and efficient," she said, according a House record of the vote. "House Bill 4929 represents another assault on our public school employees and will in no way improve our state's schools."

The Michigan legislation is similar to a recently approved law in Alabama, which was challenged in court by a teachers' union.

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