Michigan voters came out in numbers last week to protest the recent changes to the minimum wage and paid sick leave laws that were approved early this year. The new bills, which passed the House and Senate during the lame-duck session, significantly alter the original legislation. Coming from various cities across Michigan, women and men gathered outside the Capitol for half-an-hour before making their way to the Rotunda chanting “lame-duck has got to go.” Roquesha O’Neil, a Detroit resident, traveled to Lansing to join the protests and express her displeasure with the lawmakers who amended the minimum wage bills. “It’s a dangerous game they’re playing because they’re hurting and breaking our families,” she said.
Some have described it as a ‘game changer’ while others have declared it a travesty for Michigan workers. Either way, in a matter days, a GOP majority quickly moved right-to-work legislation through a lame duck session in both the House and Senate. “In the space of 72 hours it went from ‘not on my agenda’ to ‘it’s going be a law in a couple of weeks,’ and that’s a pretty dramatic transition,” said Rick Pluta of Michigan Radio who has been following Lansing politics for more than two decades. It’s a move that marks the end of decades long “closed shop” laws in the state, meaning workers would now no longer be required to join union or pay union dues. For most of his term Gov. Rick Snyder has made it a point to steer clear of such divisive issues.
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Focal Point is an Emmy awarding winning, student produced newscast from the School of Journalism at Michigan State University.