The Michigan House approved the first of two right-to-work bills Tuesday that would limit unions’ strength in the Rust Belt capitol of the U.S.

The Republican-dominated chamber passed a measure dealing with public-sector workers 58-51. Still to come was a vote on a second bill focusing on private sector workers. The Senate approved both last week.

When final versions have cleared the House, they’ll go to GOP Gov. Rick Snyder who is expected to sign them into law today.

Passage followed numerous challenges and changes sought by Democrats as well as raucous protests inside and outside the Capitol from pro-union demonstrators. Thousands descended upon downtown Lansing to rally against the legislation that prohibits requiring nonunion employees to financially support unions at their workplace.

Backers say a right-to-work law would bring more jobs to Michigan and give workers freedom. Critics say it would drive down wages and benefits.

Should Gov. Snyder sign the bills into law, Michigan, the longstanding stronghold of unionized labor, will become the second Rust Belt state to adopt right-to-work legislation, something almost unimaginable a year ago.

UPDATE: The Michigan Legislature gave final approval Tuesday to a right-to-work plan to prohibit unions from collecting fees from nonunion workers.

Gov. Snyder is expected to sign the legislation into law as early as Wednesday.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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