Union Member: `Civil War’ in Michigan’s Right to Work Debate

Photograph by Jeff Kowalsky/Bloomberg

Demonstrators crowd in to the rotunda inside the Capitol building in Lansing, Michigan, on Dec. 11, 2012.

As an estimated 10,000 people surrounded the Michigan Statehouse today, an Americans for Prosperity white tent was ripped down and tables overturned, with supporters of labor awaiting action on right-to-work laws inside.

The Capitol in Lansing was ringed with protestors, the stairs at the front blocked by people holding signs such as this one: “Snyder is a turncoat.”

If the Republican-dominated legislature approves the bills and Republican Gov. Rick Snyder signs them as promised, Michigan would become the 24th state to enact such legislation, and the second this year after Indiana.

The change would be a practical and symbolic rout in a stronghold of organized labor.

After the tent fell, some state police arrived with batons — refraining from hitting anyone, yet holding them high, forcing people to move. Snow fell at one point, a building thermometer reading 32 degrees Farenheit.

Adoption of these laws, labor leaders and allies said, would lead to further political turmoil.

“There will be blood,” Rep. Douglas Geiss, a Democrat from Taylor, said in debate before a vote.

Bill Bagwell, a 55-year-old United Auto Workers member from Westland, said the measure would create friction at his General Motors Co. plant in Ypsilanti. Members who pay union dues would detest those who enjoy the benefits of the contract but don’t contribute, he said.

“It’ll create civil war,” Bagwell said.

See the full story on Michigan’s labor dispute at Bloomberg.com.

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