Rallying For Public Safety

By: Meaghan M. Norman Email
By: Meaghan M. Norman Email

Chanting of "Keep 312, keep 312, keep 312" could be heard up and down the streets of downtown Lansing.

Public Act 312 puts an arbitrator in between employers and the union when the two are deadlocked and can't reach a compromise.

"If they repeal it, employers could do whatever they want, we wouldn't be able to sit down and bargain collectively," said Dan Dawe, vice president of the 6th district of the Michigan Professional Firefighters Union.

Hundreds of police and firefighters combined from across the state marched all over the grounds of the state capitol on Wednesday.

"If there's no arbitration we feel we're at the mercy of whatever municipality [to do what they want with us], with no recourse," said Ward Spidle, engineer with the Lansing Fire Department.

But in a scheduled House committee hearing, Representative Joseph Haveman argues that eliminating Public Act 312 is in the best financial interest of the state.

"Public Act 312 is one more bill to pay when communities are struggling to make ends meet," said Rep. Haveman (R-Holland).

"The state is broke and the way we've been doing things no longer works," said Holland Mayor Kurt Dykstra.

Haveman says the alternatives to not repealing the act is layoffs or tax increases. But those outside with signs warn that that a bigger consequence could be the public's safety and lawmakers need to listen.

"They do so much for us, it's the least we can do as legislators to protect them and their rights," said Rep. George Darany (D-Dearborn)

"Save 312 -- it keeps the public safe and keeps us safe," said Dawe.

And many say when they risk their lives, they should not be left wondering if someone will fight for theirs.

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