Right to Work

Labor Protests in Michigan: Scenes From the Capitol (PHOTOS)

As Michigan became the 24th state to pass a right-to-work law, union supporters flocked to the capitol.

Bill Pugliano / Getty Images

Romain Blanquart / Detroit Free Press / MCT / Landov

“Shame on you!” That was the cry of thousands of union supporters from around the country who flocked to Michigan’s capitol building Tuesday to protest the state’s new “right-to-work” legislation. The two bills, signed by Republican Gov. Rick Snyder, sharply limit labor rights by eliminating the legal requirement that employees pay union fees as a condition of keeping or attaining their jobs. Demonstrators clashed with police as they voiced their dismay over the legislation. See scenes from Lansing.

Bill Pugliano / Getty Images


Michigan state police don riot gear as they push back protesters blocking a street as they rally against the state’s new right-to-work legislation. “You don’t join a union because you’re short-sighted and profit-driven like the Koch brothers,” Jeff Fien, a teacher from Flint, told The Daily Beast. “No one ever became a teacher or a nurse or a pipe-fitter or a firefighter or any of the jobs that make this country great because they wanted to get rich.”

Paul Sancya / AP Photo

Carried Away

One protester, who appears to be have been detained, is carried away by law enforcement. Michigan is now the 24th state to pass right-to-work bills. Once described as “one of the most union-friendly states in the country,” Michigan now has new rules making union payments voluntary that will likely take effect in late March.

Carlos Osorio / AP Photo

Crowds Gather

It was before dawn when protesters began gathering at the state capitol, with buses transporting demonstrators from all over the country to the site. While hordes of people rallied outside the building, a portion was allowed into the rotunda to protest the passage of the bills. It’s estimated that at least 12,500 protesters showed up.

Eric Seals / Detroit Free Press / MCT / Landov


Of course, not everyone was against the bill. David Dudenhoefer, left, attended the rally on behalf of the Campaign for Liberty, a group in favor of right-to-work legislation. In this photo, he sparred with Darryl Paige, right, a worker at the Ford truck plant in Detroit and member of Local 600. After signing the bill Tuesday, Governor Snyder called it “a good thing” and “pro-worker.”

Bill Pugliano / Getty Images

Shame on You

“Shame on you” was the rally chorus of the flabbergasted opponents of the bill, unable to fathom that their state—which boasts one of the highest rates of unionization in the country, gave birth to the automotive industry, and went for Obama in this past election—is joining the ranks of traditionally conservative states who have passed right-to-work legislation.

Paul Sancya / AP Photo

On to 2014

While some view Tuesday’s events as a major loss—Sen. Carl Levin labeled it “an assault” on the rights of Michiganders—a large portion is already moving on to the next juncture. “Wait for 2014” was the new battle cry, reports Jay Scott Smith for The Daily Beast, with many realizing that a number of GOP seats are up for grabs in the midterm elections, including Governor Snyder’s. “They’re going to be sorry at what they have decided to put themselves through the next two years,” said David Hecker, president of the American Federation of Teachers’ Michigan chapter. “It isn’t Dick DeVos’s state. It isn’t the Koch brothers’ state. This is our state. Let’s take it back.”