Hundreds Protest at Capitol

By: AP
By: AP

LANSING, Mich. -- Several hundred union members lobbied Michigan lawmakers Tuesday to vote against proposals that they say would threaten collective bargaining rights. Meanwhile, smaller groups of activists and tea party members rallied outside the state Capitol against a variety of proposals that would eliminate tax exemptions, tax pensions and cut school funding, among other things.
The protests likely will become common now that Republican Gov. Rick Snyder has rolled out his budget proposal for the fiscal year that starts Oct. 1.
Snyder's $45.9 billion budget proposal, detailed last week, has upset many people for many reasons. Among them, it will cut school funding and get rid of many personal tax breaks while attempting to lower taxes paid by many businesses.
Snyder's administration has said it's a tough but necessary plan for shared sacrifice as Michigan tries to rebound from long-standing economic and state government budget problems, including a projected $1.8 billion shortfall for the fiscal year starting Oct. 1.
Many protesters, however, said they thought Snyder's proposal was an attack on unions similar to a bill being pushed by Wisconsin's new Republican governor. They said they were inspired to turn out by eight straight days of protests that have drawn tens of thousands of people to the Wisconsin Capitol.
Sally McNamara, a teacher with Adrian schools and member of the Michigan Education Association union, took advantage of a snow day in her district to join protesters in Lansing.
"I'm here to support my union brothers and sisters," McNamara said. "Without unions, there's be no weekends. There'd be no reasonable way to feed our families."
Temperatures were below 20 degrees in Lansing on Tuesday morning, but the sun was out and winds weren't very brisk.

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  • by Anonymous on Feb 23, 2011 at 03:51 PM
    Everyone wants their share of the pie untouched. Unions are not that bad, but when you are required to join one to work a company, it is like asking the government to take 20% paycheck for taxes and get nothing in return.
  • by Rob Location: Home on Feb 22, 2011 at 07:20 PM
    I would've liked to have went to the Capitol today to support our lawmakers that are looking to make the much needed cuts in our State's Budget, but unfortunatelly as a small business owner I wasn't able to. I had to work so I can pay my Michigan Business Taxes, my Property Taxes, my Personal Property Taxes, my Payroll Taxes, and my Employees Health Insurance Premiums, even though I couldn't afford to draw a paycheck myself last year, even though I avg. 60 hrs a week (thank God for an awesome and understanding wife that happens to have a job as a elementary school secretary). I'm tired of hearing how the union employees have given up so much already, and I'm tired of the unions and the media making private sector employers out to be selfish fat cats that only care about their bottom line. I'm sorry but if it wasn't for the private sector there wouldn't be anyone to pay the tax bill. I do have faith that things will turn around and all the hard work and sacrefice will be worth it.
  • by Robin Location: Niles on Feb 22, 2011 at 05:04 PM
    Why do people feel they need to bring down unions because union workers have negotiated a contract that actually provides a living wage with benefits? Instead of working with unions to bring their standard of living up. If the EFM goes through then Right to Work Zones, unions will be busted and then who will stand up for the working class? The only reason they are attacking unions is because unions are the only organizations big enough to take law makers on.
  • by Viti Location: Frontone on Feb 22, 2011 at 02:38 PM
    Why doesn't the powers that be at MEA/MESSA/MEA Financial Services as well as the rest of the workers there take a pay cut? You would be shocked to learn what the pay scale is there. It's ungodly for the "work" they do. I imagine they're getting a bit worried right now, thinking they have another Engler on board. And it's not just them, it's all the Unions. They have gotten too fat on union wages/benefits and you wonder why it's less expensive to buy imports?
  • by Steven Location: Jackson on Feb 22, 2011 at 02:28 PM
    The media needs to stop focusing their coverage on how the proposed budget will impact the extreme minority of the workforce. The vast majority of the US workforce (roughly 80%) is employed by small business. Most of these employees have no union representation and the don't even have any pension options available to them. The unions members and officials who are complaining about how this proposed budget will impact present and future retirees need to count their blessings. Most of us would be extremely pleased with having any type of pension - especially a pension that would include healthcare coverage that exceeds medicare. Why should taxpayers continued to be forced to pay for benefits that the majority of us are not even eligible to receive?
  • by Dora Location: Lansing on Feb 22, 2011 at 12:28 PM
    Where are the law makers concessions? Why don't they take a pay cut instead of cutting necessary items like schools, and local government? They don't need the 6 figure salaries. Aren't they the second highest paid in the nation? Behind California, the other state in the most trouble. Wake up law makers, cut your own salaries and benefits instead of making local governments cut jobs.
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