Protesters Fight Right-To-Work Law
About 50 protesters gathered on the steps of the capitol protesting the right to work law that took effect at midnight Thursday morning.
"It is not a right to work, it is a right to work for less money," said Sue Love, a retired teamster.
"The fight has changed, back in December you saw the large amounts of people that were out here to try to change the mind of the politicians before they ended up passing it into law," said Jeff Breslin, the president of the Michigan Nurses Association.
Thursday there were fewer protesters and they were far more quiet, as they said, representing the how they feel their voices have been silenced. As the protesters gathered there were almost as many journalists as protesters.
"This is just a symbolic representation that when you are gone out of session, we are still in session. We are going to be here. This is a temporary law. It wasn't done democratically, we are going to change it back democratically," said Brett Brown, of UAW Local 602.
Similar protests were held at ten other locations across the state, including East Lansing, Ann Arbor, Grand Rapids and Battle Creek to name a few.
Workers not attending the rallies were encouraged to wear red to show solidarity.
Republicans stand by the law, saying it will bring jobs to Michigan.
"We are seeing surrounding states who are now worried about whether they are still competitive with Michigan in terms of attracting jobs providers. That's a great thing," said Ari Adler, Press Secretary for Speaker of the House, Republican Jase Bolger.
Out Thursday, a Michigan State University study showed the state remains strongly divided on the topic. With an equal number both for and against right-to-work. 42.7 percent said they believe the new law will help the economy, while 41 percent said it will hurt. With a 3 percent margin of error, statistically it's a dead heat.
"What I sense is a deep divide that I don't think is going to go away over time. I could be wrong, but I think that so much of this is gets to sort of an ideological division." said Dr. Charles Ballard, the Director of the study.
Not surprisingly, union members are considerably less optimistic about right-to-work with nearly 74 percent saying it will hurt the economy. That's compared to 37 percent for non-union members.
The economist behind the study says the law might actually have little to no real effect in Michigan.
"If there are beneficial effects, of right-to-work they haven't been large enough to overcome other deficiencies the economies in Mississippi in Oklahoma and Alabama have -- those are right-to-work states," said Ballard.
Professor Ballard said many employers are concerned more with other things-- not whether their employees are union or not.
"Can you find the skilled workers to do the job that you need to do. It doesn't matter to a lot of employers whether they are unionized or non-union, what matters is does they have the skill," said Ballard.
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