Feb 22, 2011

First of two pro-union demonstrations have large and peaceful turnout

LANSING -- Some 1,500 workers turned out to lobby their lawmakers and protest Republicans stealth attempt to bust public sector unions.

The House debated the anti-democratic and union busting House Bills 4214-4218 that give Emergency Financial Mangers (EFM) more power, including the ability to disenfranchise voters and terminate contracts negotiated with labor unions in good faith. Republicans fought off every attempt to make the bills more transparent, but they were defeated along party lines.

Tuesday’s demonstration was peaceful, despite the attempt to take away precious collective bargaining rights won by life and limb of people before them and the vote from locals. It should be hard to take the vote away from voters.

Not only that, but teabaggers organized a weak counter-protest, and about 20 teabaggers showed up in a failed attempt to provoke a confrontation, telling them to “Get pictures, and take video.”

The Detroit News reported that “At one point, about two dozen tea party supporters, many hoisting "Don't Tread on Me" flags, began marching toward the mostly pro-union group of a few dozen people gathered in front of the east Capitol steps. But they stopped about 50 feet away and eventually turned back, later regrouping near Capitol Avenue in front of the monument to Michigan's Civil War governor, Austin Blair.”

The 50-1 ratio of working people to teabaggers made them think better of trying to provoke a confrontation.

Republicans did their best to silence the working people. According to the Detroit News, “More than 500 construction workers chanted and stomped their feet outside a House hearing room this afternoon to get the attention of lawmakers hearing testimony on repeal of prevailing wages.“ The House Commerce Committee took testimony on a bill that will kill the prevailing wage law that calls for union wages to be paid on public projects, but they were locked out after the seats were filled. Typically, another committee room will be set up with a TV feed, bit for some reason that did not happen.

More protests are expected Wednesday in Lansing. The House Government Operations Committee is holding a hearing on legislation to repeal Public Act 312 on Wednesday, Feb 23. House Bills 4205-4206 that will repel Public Act 312 will be voted out of the Committee at noon on Wednesday.

Because police officers and firefighters are essential to public safety, they are not allowed to strike like other bargaining units can, so PA 312 gives them a tool in negotiating a contract. PA 312 is the foundation of collective bargaining rights for firefighters and police officers in Michigan, and since 1969 PA 312 has provided a fair and equitable process for contract disputes between firefighters and police officers and municipalities.

Michigan's police and firefighters are holding a rally in support of PA312. The rally will kick off at the Radisson Hotel in downtown Lansing. From there, the group will head to the Capital.

Additionally, the Senate Education Committee will vote out the Senate version of the anti-democratic and union busting EFM bills, SBs 153-158. The Education Committee meets at 12:30 p.m. in room 100 of the Farnum Building, 125 W. Allegan St.

The meetings, like all committee meetings, are open to the public.

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