LANSING, MI (Toledo News Now) – Thousands of union protestors rallied outside the Michigan state capitol building on Tuesday to voice their opposition to the State House passing two right-to-work bills.
The bills would prohibit requiring people to join a union as a condition of employment. They will allow workers to avoid paying union dues, even though unions would be bargaining on their behalf.
Several union workers from the Toledo area were there, including Bob Simon, a union electrician with IBEW Local 8.
"I'm very concerned this will come to Ohio," Simon said. "That time is coming."
Greg Patterson with Boilermakers Local 85 was also there to oppose the measure which critics say will weaken unions and lead to lower wages.
"Our way of life is at stake, that's why I'm here today," Patterson said.
At times, the protest was on the verge of breaking out into total chaos, but local and state law enforcement was there to keep the peace, which included the use of a mounted patrol unit in riot gear.
A few supporters of the legislation were there, and a tent set up for Americans For Prosperity was torn down by angry union protestors.
"It will help our economy and create jobs," said Scott Hagerstrom, of Americans For Prosperity.
Governor Rick Snyder signed the bills into law later that day, saying this move will help maintain Michigan's competitive edge. The laws will take affect in 90 days.
Michigan will become the 24th state with right-to-work laws. With 17.5 percent of Michigan workers represented by unions, Michigan will be by far the most unionized state with these laws.