DETROIT (WWJ) – Hundreds of Detroiters converged on the state capital to protest pending legislation, including a bill that would broaden the powers of emergency financial managers.
WWJ Newsradio 950’s Vickie Thomas reports that many in the crowd were fired up as they boarded ten Lansing-bound busses, Wednesday.
– Photo gallery: Protesters Head To Lansing –
Detroiter Kim Meeks was among those gathered outside Detroit’s Northwest Activities Center.
“What concerns me the most is that we’re losing local control… I mean, people have died for these rights. All of the history of our country with our unions — we know how many people have died. We know the quality of the plants when we didn’t have unions involved. We know the benefits of collective bargaining,” Meeks said.
“This will be a death toll. This will be the opening of the door for a right to work state… We’re already talking about, in Detroit, this community urban farming. So, I guess that means bring back cotton and the mule,” she said.
Minister Malik Shabazz tells WWJ that he and members of his group met with some lawmakers this week to address a number of concerns.
“I’m concerned, not only about the water. But, I’m concerned about what they’re doing with Public Act 72. They’re creating a new act that ‘s going to allow mayors to become emergency financial managers and corporations. They’ve got bill coming down the pipeline to end collective bargaining. I’m concerned about all of it. It’s all tied together,” Shabazz said.
Many Democrats oppose the legislation, saying it goes too far and takes away power of officials elected at the local level. Unions say they worry that the legislation would allow an emergency financial manager to terminate labor contracts.
Detroit Mayor Dave Bing has also expressed concerns surrounding the issue.
Republican Governor Rick Snyder supports making changes to the state’s emergency financial manager laws. Supporters say the changes would allow the state to get involved with struggling cities and schools earlier and perhaps avoid having crisis situations that result in the appointment of an emergency financial manager.
Republican State Representative Kurt Heise said he’ll vote for the bill.
“It’s a strong incentive for local governments that are failing, labor unions, labor and management, to really double their efforts to turn their fiscal houses in order,” Heise said.
WWJ Lansing Bureau Chief Tim Skubick reports at least a thousand people attended Wednesday’s rallies, protesting several different issues. Although one, he said, stood out.
“Public Act 312, which affects firefighters and also police officers in binding arbitration… Those folks, about a thousand of them, were in the capital steps saying please don’t repeal this law because it is working,” Skubick said.
Skubick said the Governor doesn’t even want touch that issue right now. Snyder has said the binding arbitration is not a priority.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.