Police, unions prepare for right-to-work debate to continue Tuesday



LANSING — A large police presence remained at the Capitol in Lansing Friday despite a lack of protesters on the grounds.

About 50 Michigan State Police vehicles were parked near the Capitol a day after lawmakers took up contentious right-to-work legislation, sparking fierce protests and clashes with police that lead to the arrest of eight people.

Dozens of Michigan State Police were inside the building, near entrances and walking on the sidewalks outside.

State Police officials declined to release the number of officers present, but said they had an increased presence to protect protesters, visitors and workers.

Releasing the number doesn’t give police a tactical advantage, Michigan State Police Inspector Gene Adamczyk said Friday.

“With right-to-work being such a controversial issue and a very personal issue to so many people, we’ve seen an increase in protesting,” he said.

Right-to-work legislation makes it illegal to require financial support of a union as a condition of employment.

The eight people arrested Thursday are accused of resisting and obstructing a police officer, Adamczyk said. It happened when they tried to rush past troopers guarding the Senate floor.

The individuals were released on a $50 interim bond and may have been arraigned on Friday, 54A District Court Judge Hugh Clarke, Jr. said.

“The majority of the protesters had a point to make, but were very polite, very civil,” Adamczyk said.

On a rainy morning, less than a half dozen protesters milled around outside the Capitol Friday.

Cliff Oaks of Montrose and Chad Clark of St. Louis, both members of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 876, said they were at the Capitol to show their opposition to the three-bill package of right-to-work legislation that was approved in the state House and Senate late Thursday.

Oaks said one of the important purposes of unions and the dues that are paid is to pay for training that benefits all members and improves safety for electricians and the public.

“So, for someone to come to us and want a job and not be a part of the union, and use our money for his training, I feel is just flat wrong,” Oaks said.

Clark said he expects a huge union turnout at the Capitol on Tuesday, when the Legislature is expected to resume consideration of right-to-work legislation.

“I want to see them shut the state down,” he said.

No demonstrations are booked over the weekend at the Capitol, but bookings have been made for Monday and Tuesday, said Steve Benkovsky, director of Capitol facilities.


Posted by Tribune News Services

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