LANSING (WWJ/AP) - The Michigan State Police spent an extra $900,000 on overtime and other expenses to have a large presence at the Capitol during demonstrations against a right-to-work law in December.
A state spokeswoman says nearly $803,000 was spent on overtime. Another $98,000 went toward travel, lodging and other expenses.
The figures released Monday account for security from Dec. 5-12 — the week in which the Republican-led Legislature passed and Gov. Rick Snyder signed bills making Michigan the nation’s 24th right-to-work state.
Union protesters crowded in and around the Capitol for two days, and security was beefed up at other times, too.
State police say their large show of force prevented lengthy Wisconsin-style protests that could have led to millions more in overtime costs.
State police said several fights broke out on Dec. 11 — the biggest protest day. Two people were arrested when they tried to get into the George Romney Building, which was closed. Troopers used pepper spray to subdue a protester outside the Capitol who tried to pull a female trooper into a crowd.
That same day, a tent set up by a pro-right-to-work group was torn down. Several people were trapped underneath, but no one was seriously hurt. In a separate incident, a demonstrator was trampled by a police horse.
In short, right-to-work laws end requirements that workers pay union dues or fees as a condition of employment. Supporters insist it will boost the economy and job creation while opponents say right-to-work drains unions of money and weakens their ability to bargain for good wages and benefits.
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