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Union Members Converge On Michigan Capitol

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LANSING (WWJ/AP) – Hundreds of union members are lobbying Michigan lawmakers to vote against proposals that they say would threaten collective bargaining rights.

WWJ Lansing Bureau Chief Tim Skubick reports that about 300 demonstrators showed up, Tuesday, to protest Emergency Financial Manager Legislation that union leaders say will give the state authority to cancel local contracts.

“They’re elliminating things from public employees, as far as what’s been going on with collective bargaining. It’s a concern…they’re attacking labor unions,” said Lansing UAW President Art Luna.

Skubick reports that some union members are fearful that Michigan could become like Wisconsin regarding the collective bargaining issue.

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder said that’s not going to happen.

“We’re two very different states, and the way I view it is is part of it is having the dialogue that we’re having right now.  It’s not confrontation with the union, it’s about how we do collective bargaining to achieve a mutual outcome where we can all benefit and win together,” Snyder said.

Snyder said the protests are “part of democracy.”  He said his administration will collectively bargain changes such as state employee concessions with labor unions. 

Those comments notwithstanding, smaller groups of activists and tea party members rallied outside the state Capitol on Tuesday against a variety of proposals that would eliminate tax exemptions including those for pensions and cut school funding.

Most of the protesters outside the Capitol left by early afternoon. But lobbying continued inside and in buildings where lawmakers have offices.

The protests likely will become common now that Republican Gov. Snyder has rolled out his budget proposal for the fiscal year that starts Oct. 1.  

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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