Labor protests continue in Lansing
Image has not been found. URL: http://images.americanindependent.com/2010/07/MahurinPolitics_Thumb1.jpgOrganized labor is continuing the push back against moves by the GOP-dominated state legislature to erode union rights in the state.
Tuesday, union supporters protested and lobbied over prevailing wage laws. Wednesday, police and fire unions are converging on the state Capitol to protest legislation that would remove binding arbitration as a settlement of contract issues.
Greg Hillary, president of the Grand Rapids Police Officers Association, says that without binding arbitration the unions representing law enforcement and firefighters would have only the option of work stoppages to push for settlement of contracts.
The legislation the unions are protesting was introduced by Rep. Joe Haveman (R-Holland). He says it is not an attack on law enforcement and firefighters.
“This legislation is not about being against public safety but having elected officials making decisions for the betterment of the whole community,” Haveman said Saturday. “Public safety officers do a a heck of job.”
Haveman tells the Grand Rapids Press he wants to remove the arbitrator because they only focus on the contract, “not the financial big picture of the city.”
Several pieces of legislation are working their way through the state legislature which will undermine organized labor rights. From eliminating prevailing wage laws to right to work zones to removing binding arbitration rulings in contract negotiations, the GOP is attempting to roll back decades of union gains in the state.
Organized labor and supporters are expected to continue to organize protests and rallies to oppose the GOP agenda.
Many workers on Tuesday told Michigan Messenger that they see these moves as a way to completely destroy unions in the state, and compared the situation to attempts by Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s plans to eliminate collective bargaining as an option in that state. That state’s 14 Senate Democrats have fled the state as a move to prevent the Senate from moving the legislation. The GOP majority in that body requires at least one Democrat to be present in order to have a quorum to proceed with votes.
Indiana Democrats fled their state on Tuesday in order to block controversial anti-labor legislation from moving in that state, reports the Indianapolis Star. The paper reports the lawmakers have fled to Illinois. Lawmakers are likely fleeing to that state because the Democratic governor is expected to prevent law enforcement from detaining the lawmakers and shipping them back to Indiana.
MoveOn.org has called for rallies and protests at the capitol buildings across the country on Saturday to support Wisconsin labor.