Michigan police are bracing for another wave of demonstrations today and Tuesday in Lansing, where protests broke out last week related to right-to-work bills making their way through the legislature.
In a reversal of his past position on the anti-union measures, Republican Gov. Rick Snyder has said he would sign right-to-work legislation when it reaches his desk, according to the Detroit Free Press
His sudden decision last week to work with the Republican-controlled legislature on a measure making it illegal to require the payment of union dues or other support to unions as a condition of employment touched what the newspaper described as "a political firestorm" last Thursday.
Eight people were arrested when demonstrators tried to storm the Senate chamber. The police shut them out by closing the heavy doors, but a court order a few hours later forced them to be opened again to the public.
Demonstrations are expected to grow even larger this week, especially on Tuesday when the legislature could pass a final bill and send it on to Snyder for his signature. It's possible a final vote could be pushed back to Wednesday, however, the Free Press reported.
The newspaper also reported that police are preparing for strong protests, given the fact that union members from across the state participated in civil disobedience training in Detroit on Saturday in preparation for the demonstrations planned at the state Capitol.
As a precaution, the police planned to clear the area around the Capitol today, limiting parking access and closing some nearby streets.
Michigan, home to the headquarters of the U.S. auto industry and the United Auto Workers, has one of the largest union presences in the country. If right-to-work legislation becomes law there, the state would be the 24th to place restrictions on union activities for both public and private employees.
Snyder, who in the past has called such laws "too divisive," now says he supports them because they create jobs by attracting more business and investment, and will make the state more competitive.
Opponents, which include a handful of Republicans who have sided with the Democrats on the issue, insist the Michigan bills are all about "union busting" and have little to do with real job creation. They criticize Snyder for "selling out" to rich corporations and businesses by embracing right-to-work, which they labeled as another "extreme" measure pushed by Republicans to restrict workers' rights.
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