By Colleen Ferreira (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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6:09 PM EST, December 11, 2012
LANSING, Mich. – It was a bitter fight with about 12,000 activists gathered at the Michigan state capitol on Tuesday.
The controversial right-to-work bill will now make its mark in Michigan, which becomes the 24th state to pass such a law.
The House passed the bill Tuesday afternoon, the Senate last week, and Governor Rick Snyder signed it late in the afternoon.
The day started in Lansing with a peaceful and passionate protest, but as the day moved on, tempers escalated and tensions got worse.
Protesters came armed with signs and ready to fight for their unions.
“This is the only way we can get our voice heard,” said one protester.
When the 58-to-51 vote came down approving the right-to-work bill, they didn’t stop. Demonstrators moved off the Statehouse steps and onto the streets with anxious energy, saying their fight is now just beginning.
“I don’t think it’s gonna be over,” said union worker Michael Walker. “Look at all these people out here.”
The crowds were controlled by the heavy police presence, but anger was obvious. Michigan is known for its strong history of unions. That’s why Ronnie Resner moved to Michigan from Arizona, another right-to-work state.
“I found working in a right-to-work state was very disagreeable,” Resner said.
But Benton Harbor State Representative Al Pscholka says this bill gives workers like Ronnie more labor freedom in the long run.
“This is an opportunity if they wanna join unions, they can,” said Pscholka. “If they don’t wanna join the union, they don’t.”
He says it’s a move that will benefit the state, especially its workers.
“We are hoping it brings additional investment and new opportunities,” Pscholka added.
But Resner, like other activists, says there’s a catch, and she saw it first-hand one year ago while she was working in Arizona.
“Wages are lower, raises were too low, safety of the workplace was not as good, schools and education was not as good.”
2 people were arrested Tuesday trying to get into the building named after former Governor George Romney, and another who had to be pepper sprayed after he put his hands on a police officer.
Several others were arrested over the last week, but that was just a few people during nearly a week of protests.
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