LANSING, Mich. -

The Michigan Senate has passed right-to-work legislation for private sector workers, following earlier approval by the House.

The measure passed on a 22-16 vote Thursday after hours of impassioned debate. Four Republicans joined all 12 Democrats in opposition.

Union activists repeatedly shouted protests from the gallery and cheered Democrats who denounced the measure.

The bill would prohibit unions from collecting fees from nonunion workers, which opponents say would weaken organized labor's ability to bargain for good wages while supporters say it would boost jobs.

Gov. Rick Snyder and GOP legislative leaders announced earlier Thursday they would put right-to-work on a fast track.

Still to come is legislation dealing with public-sector workers.

House Dems leave floor during right-to-work debate

Michigan House Democrats say they walked out as the Republican-led chamber was debating a right-to-work bill to help push for the Capitol to reopen and allow throngs of protesters inside.

House Democratic spokeswoman Katie Carey said Thursday that party members left after an Ingham County judge ordered the building reopened. They sought to persuade Capitol authorities to reverse their decision to close the building as a safety measure.

Michigan State Police officials say they were waiting to see the order before they reopened.

Once the pro-union group was allowed to rejoin other protesters, Democrats returned to the House to vote against the bill. They were unsuccessful in overcoming the GOP majority for the union-limiting legislation.

The judge's order was sought by Michigan Education Association President Steve Cook and others.