LANSING (WWJ/AP) – Top officials raised the threat level in right-to-work discourse Tuesday, vowing to wage war against those who moved quickly to pass the divisive legislation through the Michigan Legislature.
“We’re going to pass something that will undo 100 years of labor relations and there will be blood, there will be repercussions, we will re-live the battle of the overpass,” said state Rep. Doug Geiss (D-Taylor).
The battle of the overpass was a bloody fracas in 1937 between union organizers and Ford Motor Co. security guards. Walter Reuther was famously thrown down a flight of stairs and another union organizer was left with a broken back.
In the same verbal vein, Terry O’Sullivan, general president of the Labor International Union of North America, said during a rally the legislation is “dead on arrival.” He also told elected officials who support the measure that “we are going to take you on and take you out.”
Several thousand union members gathered to protest the legislation. A block-and-a-half mass that included autoworkers, sheet metal workers, machinists, and electrical workers marched to City hall, across from the Capitol. The coalition of 33 unions was later expected to gather outside the Capitol, across the street.
Republican lawmakers quickly moved legislation through the House and Senate in a single day last week.
Thousands of people marched west on Michigan Avenue in Lansing, led by a police escort. They joined several hundred more Tuesday on the Capitol lawn. They’re blowing whistles and chanting, “right-to-work has got to go!” Marchers were also coming from another direction.
Republicans who control the Legislature are poised to vote on legislation that would make financial support for unions optional. Republican Gov. Rick Snyder said live on WWJ Newsradio that he’ll sign it.
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