Large Union Protest Expected at Capitol

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

Thousands of Michigan teachers, public employees and others are preparing to protest Wednesday at the state Capitol in continued opposition to budget plans proposed by Republican Gov. Rick Snyder and the GOP-led Legislature.
Organizers say the rally scheduled for Wednesday could be the biggest yet for the state's current budget cycle. It's expected to include workers represented by the Michigan AFL-CIO, teachers unions and other many groups.
Michigan AFL-CIO President Mark Gaffney says Republicans are moving ahead too quickly with budget plans, prompting protesters to turn out in the thousands in hopes of having their concerns heard.
"They're hurrying to get this done and the result of that is they're not listening to everyone involved enough," Gaffney said Tuesday.
Unions are upset about proposals they say would undermine collective bargaining rights, such as a new law that gives state-appointed emergency financial managers more power over schools and communities facing financial distress including the authority to toss out union contracts. Other groups are upset about proposed cuts to education funding and other programs.
A proposal to tax retirement income also has sparked protests. Snyder and Republican leaders modified that plan late Tuesday so it no longer would affect as many people. The new plan would continue to exempt retirees who will be 67 or older as of Jan. 1, 2012.
The Republican governor had wanted to tax all retirement income the same as normal income in a bid to raise $900 million to help pay for a business tax cut, but many lawmakers balked after seniors made their displeasure clear.
Teachers' issues have taken center stage since the Michigan Education Association, the state's largest teachers union, last month began asking its 155,000 statewide members for permission to "initiate crisis activities up to and including job action," which could include a strike considered illegal under Michigan law. The MEA says it is not publicly releasing the results of the ongoing authorization votes.
Republican lawmakers quickly responded to what they perceived as an MEA strike threat with legislation that would put teeth into the state's current law banning strikes. The proposals call for stiff fines and the suspension of licenses for teachers for at least two years if they participate in an illegal strike. Teachers could lose their licenses permanently in some cases.
MEA officials have been downplaying the possibility of a walkout in recent weeks. But union leaders say they're under attack in Lansing and that teachers have been made to feel like scapegoats for budget problems.
"It is a high level of frustration," said Rosemary Carey, an MEA spokeswoman.
A March 16 rally drew more than 3,000 people and ended with 14 arrests, mostly for refusing to leave the Capitol after it was scheduled to close for the night. Some of those arrested were protesting the new emergency financial manager law.

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  • by Ryan Sanders on Apr 18, 2011 at 06:29 PM
    With the media having such a strong conservative bias they will cover and use hyperbole to exaggerate the strength of the tea party. Reality is perception. The people will always win. Always.
  • by Anonymous on Apr 13, 2011 at 05:54 PM
    This station is so biased on its coverage. There has been protest happening all year at the capitol but only those that are prounion or pro socialist agendas make the news.
  • by Anonymous on Apr 13, 2011 at 08:35 AM
    This is why unions are becoming a burden to society. If they feel that they should be given priority over everyone else is a bunch of BS> The bottom line is that they can not be supported on the tax dollor for future generations.
  • by Eric Location: St.Johns on Apr 13, 2011 at 06:32 AM
    Ricardo, I personally would like to challenge you to come to the rally today at 1 o'clock and listen to what were fighting for I garentee this will affect your wages also if we fail. You need to hear for yourself not from hear say or FOX news. Honest days work for honest days wage! were tired of seeing the middle class bail out the greedy mistake that the GOP has done to this country, how fast we forget how George Bush left this country. I"M STILL WAITING FOR THIS TRICKEL DOWN EFFECT that the Rep. keep talking about. If you havent noticed the middle class is disappearing fast in every Republican ran state.
  • by Anonymous on Apr 13, 2011 at 05:47 AM
    I know a current state employee, who was a contract employee. The contract was cut, but later he was able to hire in with the state as a state employee doing the exact same job. He tells me he is making $14,000 LESS as a state employee than he was as a contractor.
  • by Ricardo Location: Lansing on Apr 13, 2011 at 02:40 AM
    well, I see the overpaid governmental "workers" are attempting to justify their bloated wages and benefits again. I wish I had a "money tree" in the back yard so I could pick a pocketfull anytime I wanted to. (Like government employees feel they can do) Time to face the music and cut wages and benefits back to realistic levels. These employees can picket, shout or whatever other attention getting routine they dream up, but the bottom line is, they are NOT worth their pay and benefits! The taxpayers have been bled to death, but these vultures always want more and more. Time to clean house by whatever means it takes, and make pay scales reflect their true worth in todays economy. If needed, fire all of them and create new departments with realistic costs. Thank You. Ricardo
    • reply
      by Darryl on Apr 13, 2011 at 07:20 AM in reply to Ricardo
      If we get back the bloated tax breaks from corprate america we would'nt have a problem try agian ricardo
    • reply
      by me on Apr 13, 2011 at 07:31 AM in reply to Ricardo
    • reply
      by Cliff on Apr 13, 2011 at 08:26 AM in reply to Ricardo
      Ricardo I don't think you know what you are talking about. Do you even work and if so what do you do ? Have you ever had human waste thrown at you at your job? Have you ever had to stop a person that cutts on themself and hoping they dont Hep-C or aids. I have and can run into this anytime of day or night. So don't put all the Gov Employees in the same boat. You are the one that help put this guy into Office.
      • reply
        by Lou on Apr 13, 2011 at 10:17 AM in reply to Cliff
        Will those protesting in Lansing kindly return to work and give us our $5.7 billion back.
        • reply
          by Blake Davis on Apr 14, 2011 at 12:53 PM in reply to Lou
          AMEN LOU!
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