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Unions prepare for protest at Michigan Capitol

Published on NewsOK Modified: December 8, 2012 at 7:03 pm •  Published: December 8, 2012
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Mark Coco, 27, a graduate student at Wayne State University, said he would protest in Lansing. He recently worked on a failed campaign to put collective bargaining rights in the state Constitution.

"This is the first time I've ever been involved in this. I'm trusting that it pay dividends," Coco said in an interview. The legislation "is a way to divide workers, divide colleagues."

Katie Oppenheim, the head of a union local that represents 4,500 nurses at University of Michigan Health System in Ann Arbor, said workers whose pay and benefits are negotiated by a union should pay dues.

She believes her members appreciate the fruits of collective bargaining and will keep paying. But she acknowledged "the reality that people like things for free."

The legislation has already been challenged in court by a union activist who claims the state Open Meetings Act was violated when Michigan State Police barred the doors to the Capitol on Thursday. Ari Adler, a spokesman for Republican House Speaker Jase Bolger, told the Detroit Free Press the lawsuit was "baseless and frivolous" and "more about receiving attention than getting justice."

A hearing on the lawsuit has been scheduled for Thursday, but union activist and Highland Park school board member Robert Davis told the newspaper he would request an earlier date.

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