LANSING, Mich. – Both the Michigan State House and State Senate have passed its own versions of the right-to-work bill.
Late Thursday night protesters who had been in and out of the State Capitol all day learned of the vote and started chanting, “Shame on you.”
“I’m sad,” said Lynn Mason, a retired teacher from Belding. “It’s a sad day for Michigan.”
The thoughts of Mason sum up the way most of the protesters at the Capitol felt after learning both the State House and State Senate voted in favor of a right-to-work bill.
Mason said, “I watched people testify and make really good arguments and it seemed like their voices weren’t heard.”
If signed into law, the right-to-work bill will no longer require workers to pay union dues or become part of a union as a condition of employment, with the exception of police and firefighters unions.
Early Thursday, Governor Rick Snyder and republican leadership laid out where they stand on right-to-work.
“I’m asking that we pass an act that calls for workplace fairness and equity. To be pro-worker and give freedom of choice to our workplace,” Governor Snyder said.
Shortly after the governor’s announcement, crowds started to gather inside the Capitol.
State Police said they were forced to defend themselves with pepper spray after a few member of crowd charged officers.
Damien Nelson. a carpenter union member, said he was on the front line and saw things differently.
“They are just voicing their opinions, their concerns,” Nelson said of the people who were pepper sprayed. “This is terrible. It’s disgusting.”
A total of eight people were arrested. Police then closed the Capitol for hours claiming it was over capacity.
Crowds then took to the lawn chanting, “Let us in.” It was clear they did not want to be left out in the cold.
Then a lawyer from the American Civil Liberties Union hand delivered a court order from an Ingham County Judge to State Police, clearing the path for the protesters to come back in the building.
Julie Monetta, a school teacher from Holland, had just arrived at the Capitol from a full day at school.
Monetta go there just in time to see both the State House and State Senate pass different versions of the bill.
“They are very deliberately pushing this very quickly. And I think the people of Michigan will really regret it when… if and when it goes through,” said Monetta.
The senate and house will now have to come to an agreement on a single bill before it can make its way to Governor Snyder’s desk.