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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 busses, 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. Snyder's office is. State officers formed a barrier around the building as protesters shouted to him, "Don't sign the bill!"

Snyder signs bills Tuesday evening, Pappageorge says he voted yes

Still, during 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.

State Sen. John Pappageorge (R-Troy), who represents Birmingham in Lansing, said he voted for the legislation so that workers have a choice on whether to join a union — and therefore keep their job.

"The question is: Should it be illegal to pay a third party to keep your job? My answer is yes and that's why I voted the way I did," Pappageorge said.

"The important thing is: Should we order people to pay dues?" he added. Pappageorge voted for both House Bill 4003 and Senate Bill 116. Rep. Chuck Moss (R-Birmingham) also voted yes on HB 4003 and HB 4054.

For more

  • Gov. Rick Snyder Wants Right-to-Work Legislation
  • What Do You Think About Right-to-Work Legislation?
  • BLOG: A Sad Day for the State of Michigan
  • Your Guide to Right-to-Work Bills (And How Birmingham's Lawmakers Voted)
Keith Best December 12, 2012 at 01:48 PM
Did you see this on the nerws? "Union thugs" in action: http://youtu.be/u_F3oev06i0
Racer Boy December 13, 2012 at 03:04 AM
You can bet you are not going to see this video on Network news or MSNBC or CNN. Any wonder why Unions have lost their importance and relevance? They are nothing more than mobsters holding a gun to the head of business people.

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