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10K Protesters Gather For Battle Over Right-To-Work

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(credit:WWJ/Mike Campbell)

(credit:WWJ/Mike Campbell)

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LANSING (WWJ/AP) - People are lining up by the thousands to get into the state Capitol in anticipation of the heated battle over right-to-work legislation in Michigan.

By 10 a.m. the Capitol building was as capacity, with 2,000 people inside. The crowd surrounding the Capitol was estimated at 10,000. State police said people will be let in in small groups as others leave.

Demonstrators packed all four levels of the rotunda, chanting “Union!” and” What’s disgusting? Union-busting!” They stomped their feet and banged together hard hats.

A top union official has vowed to wage “war” against those moving quickly to pass divisive right-to-work legislation in the Michigan Legislature. Terry O’Sullivan, general president of the Labor International Union of North America, said during a public rally held Tuesday the legislations 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.”

Terry O’Sullivan, general president of the Labor International Union of North America, said during a public rally held Tuesday the legislations 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.”

Also among the demonstrators is 53-year-old Wes Nakagiri of Livingston County’s Hartland Township. He’s an engineer with an auto parts supplier in Troy and says he turned out to see the “historical significance” of the day. He says he supports the legislation but “can see both sides.”

Sharon Mowers, 54, of Lansing is a United Auto Workers member who has worked for General Motors Co. for 13 years. She turned out and says the legislation will bring workers lower wages.

Thousands of people marched west on Michigan Avenue, led by a police escort, blowing whistles and chanting, “right-to-work has got to go!”   Fifty-year-old carpenter Edward DeRocher of Walled Lake held a sign that said, “One Tough Turd,” a commentary on Snyder’s 2010 election slogan, “One Tough Nerd.” Inflatable rats are on display, poking fun at Snyder and GOP leaders.

Some protesters traveled from the Upper Peninsula to make their voice heard. Keith Almley said he drove over eight hours from L’Anse to Lansing.

“I’m basically interested to see what’s happening today and I’m curious as to how the union is going to react,” Almley told WWJ’s Mike Campbell.

Ed McNeil of AFSCME is opposed to the legislation.

“They’re not doing anything for the citizens of the state of Michigan to keep this economy thriving,” said McNeil. “And it’s an elimination of the middle class. So, workers are gonna lose protections as far as worker safety issues and employment at will — you’re gonna see a big change if this goes through.”

The Republican-controlled legislature is poised to take final action on right-to-work laws in Michigan on Tuesday. The bills mean Michigan workers would no longer have to pay union fees for negotiating contracts and other services.

Gov. Snyder said he will sign the legislation.

MORE: Lawmakers To Make ‘Historic’ Vote On Right-To-Work Legislation

School Districts Closed As Teachers Skip Work To Attend Protests

Police Preparing For Worst Ahead Of Right-To-Work Protests

Obama: Right-To-Work Is About Politics, Not Economics

Michigan GOP Approves Right-To-Work Legislation

TM and © Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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