Politics
4:24 pm
Wed February 23, 2011

Protesters march again at state capitol

Protesters were in Lansing again today to speak out against several proposals in the Republican-controlled state Legislature that they say will strip unions of the rights. That includes a measure approved by the state House that would give more control to emergency financial managers appointed to run cities and townships, or school districts. The state Senate is considering a similar measure.

Nick Ciaramintaro is with the union AFL-CIO of Michigan. He told lawmakers that more power for emergency financial managers means less democracy for local governments. 

“Once it’s declared, democratic self-rule virtually ceases to exist in the local unit. Collective bargaining is stopped, public discourse is minimized, local officials are stripped of all authority.”         

Governor Rick Snyder called on lawmakers during his State of the State speech to expand the roll of emergency financial managers. Those who support the proposal say it will help keep cities and school districts out of financial trouble. 

 Republican state Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville says the proposal is intended to get cities and school districts back into good financial standing before an emergency manager would have to step in.

 “I think the key word in describing this package is ‘emergency.’ What we don’t want – and maybe a better term for it would be ‘emergency prevention,’ because we are in very difficult times and have tough decisions to make. Step four of this process is bankruptcy. And really what this legislation is leaning toward is making sure we don’t get into bankruptcy.”  

Hundreds of police and fire union members also showed up to protest a proposed repeal of a law that puts labor disputes into binding arbitration. Public- and private-sector union members have crowded the state Capitol this week to oppose Republican proposals that would strip power from unions.