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10,000 Protesters Descend on Capitol Tuesday to Fight Michigan Right-to-Work Legislation

The bills were signed into law by Gov. Rick Snyder on Tuesday.

LANSING - People came from as close as down the street and as far as Chicago and Wisconsin, joining thousands of union members in a protest against right-to-work legislation Tuesday in Lansing.

Despite the roar of the crowds lining the lawn of the Capitol building and surrounding streets, two pieces of legislation passed by the Senate last week made their way through the state House of Representatives and were signed into law by Gov. Rick Snyder Tuesday afternoon.

10,000 on the Capitol lawn

Michigan State Police estimated that protesters at the Capitol numbered around 10,000 on Tuesday. Most were union members and supporters, while a small contingent of Tea Party and Americans for Prosperity members—both of which support right-to-work legislation—were present as well.

Teamsters, the American Federation of Teachers, the Michigan Education Foundation, UAW and a number of smaller unions—including pipeworkers, boilermakers and plumbers—were present.

"They say they want to bring Michigan together," said Nick Kottalis, a Dearborn resident and President of the Dearborn Truck Plant chapter of UAW Local 600. "This is just asking to divide the state of Michigan."

While UAW members arrived on large buses, many teachers came on their days off—or took a personal day—to join the protests, driving their own cars full of fellow educators donning red. Several said they feared for their jobs if their district knew they were at the protest.

"We're afraid to talk because we don't want to lose our jobs," said a teacher from Farmington.

Arrests, pepper spray, mounted police

The scene got out of hand a number of times as protesters clashed with right-to-work supporters, police, and legislators inside the Capitol.

According to the Detroit Free Press, Michigan State Police confirmed that three people were arrested and one was pepper sprayed—although several people claimed to have been sprayed. One of those people was former Congressman Mark Schauer.

“I immediately began to retreat and began to cover my eyes and my mouth,” Schauer told the Battle Creek Enquirer. “It was not good."

The biggest clash came around 11:30 a.m., when union members pushed down tents set up by Americans for Prosperity—while AFP members were inside. Mounted police were brought in to control the situation, as well as state police wielding batons.

After news of the house votes reached protesters, the rally moved to the Romney Building, where Gov. Rick Snyder's office is. State officers formed a barrier around the building as protesters shouted to him, "Don't sign the bill!"

In a press conference Tuesday evening, Snyder announced that he signed the bills.

"I have signed these bills into law. ... We are moving forward on the topic of workplace fairness and equality," he said.

What is your opinion about right-to-work legislation? Tell us in the comments' section and upload your own photos from protests at the Capitol to this article.

Keith Best December 12, 2012 at 01:39 PM
"Union thugs" in action. See it here: http://youtu.be/u_F3oev06i0
Jean Marie December 12, 2012 at 05:49 PM
Recall Snyder at best. Don't reelect in 2014, for sure!!
Jean Marie December 12, 2012 at 05:51 PM
Be careful when you elect Repubs. Next..."war on women". Watch out for the liars!!
John P December 16, 2012 at 03:49 PM
Just in time for Christmas, I am putting this information up because the Republican Michigan Legislators continue to hurt the working class of Michigan. Governor Snyder and his cronies attacked the workers who belong to a union, indirectly this will effect all workers. They attacked women's rights. They are now attacking a new group, SENIOR CITIZENS because this group is most likely to fall into this category. But it could target you also because it is an exemption based on income and other criteria. Your homestead tax credit for 2012 was just taken away if you make over $50,000 total household income. In 2011 it was $82,500. So the hypocrisy in this is the Republicans will mot raise taxes on the wealthy, anyone earning over $250,000.00 but it is OK to do this. We need to hold these people accountable. You may have voted for these people and thought these people will fix the State, they are fixing the State for their wealthy friends. When you vote for a Republican and you are in the working class you are voting against your own interest. Paid for by the Koch Brothers, Dick Devos, Rush Limbaugh, and Faux News. Here is the link to the state website that explains this. http://www.michigan.gov/taxes/0,1607,7-238-43535_43538---,00.html

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