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Michigan, UAW To Begin Contract Negotiations

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United Auto Workers president Bob King. (Bill Pugliano/Getty Images, File)

United Auto Workers president Bob King. (Bill Pugliano/Getty Images, File)

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LANSING (WWJ/AP) – The national leader of the United Auto Workers and representatives of Gov. Rick Snyder’s administration have marked the start of contract talks between Michigan and its largest employees union.

UAW President Bob King and other union and state government officials shook hands in Lansing Wednesday afternoon. It signifies the start of labor negotiations.

The contract for 17,000 state employees in UAW Local 6000 ends Dec. 31.

The talks come amid tension between organized labor and Snyder over his signing of a right-to-work law.

In general, such laws — which now exists in 24 U.S. states — prohibit requiring unions from collecting fees from non-union employees, which opponents say drains unions of money and weakens their ability to bargain for good wages and benefits. Supporters insist it will boost the economy and job creation.

Snyder calls the passage of right-to-work in “a significant milestone” that will bring jobs to Michigan. The governor said the new law “isn’t about being anti-union,” but is “pro-worker.”

Police and firefighters are exempt in the legislation. , but courts have yet to decide if the law applies to state workers.

The state says it’s facing similar health care cost pressures as businesses, while the UAW says it wants to ensure employees get middle-class compensation.

(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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