LANSING (WWJ) – A crowd of thousands gathered in Lansing, Wednesday, for an afternoon rally — with union members leading the charge.
Hundreds of those in attendance came from Metro Detroit.
“We just want to deliver our message load and clear to, you know, the elected officials in Lansing, that they are accountable to the people,” said one man.
“They’re trying to take these seniors’ pensions… they just come in, and only been here, what, like three or four months?” said a woman.
“I want the union to represent me, and I want my money to go to the union if I have to pay for them to represent me. don’t need no mayor, no governor, nobody to come along and tell me how to spend my money,” said another.
One of the issues is newly approved measure that gives state-appointed Emergency Financial Managers more power. Metro Detroit AFL-CIO President Sandra Williams calls it “union-busting.”
“Nobody is safe. Anytime you can get rid of the city council, if you want to. You can get rid of school boards. That can happen wherever the governor wants that to happen, and he’s the one that makes the call on whether there is an emergency or not, to make that call,” Williams told WWJ’s Vickie Thomas.
“In most instances, he’s the one who’s going to create the emergency,” she said.
UAW President Bob King rallied the crowd by telling them that the state’s best resource is its middle class, and the Governer’s plan is chipping away at that resource.
Speaking to WWJ’s Marie Osborne, UAW member John Hernadez said he feels like all the decisions being made are one-sided.
“I don’t like what Governor Snyder is doing, going about doing things. It’s like he’s acting as a Republican dictator,” Hernandez said.
Earlier, Wednesday, at the SEIU office on Grand River Ave. in Detroit, about 400 people boarded four buses and packed in cars to join a caravan to Lansing.
Among them was Bill Dickens, who takes issue with the actions of Detroit Public School’s Emergency Financial Manager, Roberto Bobb.
“This EFM thing is crazy! It’s absolutely crazy. He’s put us in debt — further, deeper in debt. In other words, Lansing has put the Detroit public school system deeper into debt, up to $327 million, when he was supposed to solve the $200 million,” Dickens said.
“You know where that money is going? It’s going to the Republican party,” he said.
WWJ Lansing Bureau Chief Tim Skubick says the EMF legislation may be a done deal, but Gov. Rick Snyder’s unpopular proposed private pension tax may or may not make it. Skubick says that, so far, the pension tax does not have the necessary support in the Senate.
Among those protesting the pension tax was one retireewho said she want’s Snyder to keep his hands of her pension.
“This governor is thinking about cutting and taxing people that hardly have enough money now to take care of themselves,” she said.
Speaking to reporters, Gov. Snyder said it’s “human nature” to oppose change.
“Everybody likes change until it comes. But, once you get over the initial reaction, I hope they all step back and say, ‘What’s in the best interest of all of us? How do we grow this economy, how do we create jobs, how do we make home values come back up’,” Snyder said.
“Because, that’s really the longterm sucess for Michigan, is by adopting this whole package,” the Governor said.
On Tuesday, 500 Michigan seniors gathered on the Capitol lawn to protest the tax, and Snyder’s leadership in general.