LANSING, Mich. (WXYZ) - Tensions reached a boiling point at the state Capitol where protesters gathered in opposition to "right to work" legislation.
A state senator told 7 Action news reporter Tom Wait that it was getting ugly in Lansing when police reportedly used pepper-spray on some protesters inside the Capitol and also made at least eight arrests. All non-essential staff was removed from chambers and no one was allowed in the Capitol for quite some time.
UAW President Bob King was also not being allowed inside at one point during the day.
Democrats tried parliamentary tactics to delay a vote, but the House and Senate ended up passing "right-to-work" legislation.
Congressman Gary Peters released a statement denouncing Governor Snyder's support of the legislation calling it an attack on Michigan families.
“Governor Snyder campaigned on a promise of unity, but instead he’s ushering in an era of divisiveness across Michigan by launching an attack against working families,” said U.S. Congressman Gary Peters. “By trying to jam this through a lame duck session, Governor Snyder is trying to prevent voters from seeing how he is dividing Michigan instead of working to ensure the future of our state during this fragile recovery. Just like Scott Walker, Governor Snyder’s flip flop is clearly a calculated decision to put his own political ambitions ahead of the families he’s supposed to be working for. I stand in solidarity with Michigan’s working families, and we will never stop fighting against this unprecedented and reckless action by Governor Snyder.”
Thursday morning, Governor Rick Snyder, Majority Leader Randy Richardville and Speaker Jase Bolger held a news conference Thursday to discuss the right-to-work legislation.
Snyder repeatedly referred to the Workplace Fairness and Equality Act as "pro-worker," saying when then legislation arrives on his desk he plans to sign it quickly.
"We should not let this fester. Let's move forward, let's get answers so we can get things done," he said.
The news conference came as opponents gathered outside the Capitol in protest and just a day after union members filled the rotunda chanting, "We are Michigan." Opponents believe the laws to be anti-union.
UAW President Bob King who was at the Capitol Wednesday says, "Right-to-work means lower wages and it is not good for Michigan workers." King says he believes if legislation is introduced, the Governor should veto it. "That would help bring Michigan back," says King.
Snyder however disagrees, saying the legislation is about "taking care of hardworking Michigan workers," and that he did not see the right-to-work legislation as anti-union.
He also said the laws would affect less than 20% of Michigan workers.
The governor referenced Indiana's transition to a 'right-to-work' state in February saying, "It significantly increased business activity. Businesses [now] want to expand and grow in the state of Indiana."
"We still have a big hole to get out of," Snyder said in reference to Michigan's loss of 750,000 jobs between 2001 and 2010.
"It's time to step up and make some decisions."
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