Michigan approves ‘right to work’ legislation amid massive protests

By Arturo Garcia
Tuesday, December 11, 2012 14:44 EDT
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Pro-union protesters at Michigan Capitol
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Despite the presence of thousands of protesters outside the state Capitol, Michigan’s Republican-led House of Representatives spearheaded the passage of two “right to work” bills on Tuesday afternoon, NBC News reported.

The two bills are expected to be signed by Gov. Rick Snyder (R), who expressed support for the legislation last week and called the philosophy behind the bills “pro-worker.”

The first bill, passed by a 58-51 margin, forbids government agencies from making union membership a requirement for employees. A similar measure covering the private sector was approved 58-52, joining a similar bill passed by the state Legislature last week.

Around 10,000 pro-union demonstrators reportedly arrived at the Capitol in Lansing to protest the votes, with at least 200 demonstrators filling the gallery, some of whom yelled “Shame on you” at lawmakers during the debate.

The Lansing State Journal published video of state police knocking down at least one protester outside the hall while mounted on horseback, the latest in a series of demonstrations.

The Detroit Free Press also reported that police used pepper spray on a protester who grabbed a trooper and tried to drag her into the throng of demonstrators.

The issue moved further onto the national stage on Monday, when President Barack Obama criticized the bill passed last week during a speech at an auto plant in Redfield.

“What they’re really talking about is giving you the right to work for less money,” Obama said. “America’s not going to compete based on low skill, low wage, no workers rights. That’s not our competitive advantage. There’s always going to be some other country that can treat it’s workers even worse.”

Arturo Garcia
Arturo Garcia
Arturo R. García is the managing editor at Racialicious.com. He is based in San Diego, California and has written for both print and broadcast media, including contributions to GlobalComment.com, The Root and Comment Is Free. Follow him on Twitter at @ABoyNamedArt
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