NEGAUNEE - The Negaunee Education Association marched in Negaunee Monday to protest the right-to-work legislation that is working its way through the state House and Senate.
The right-to-work law, if approved, will prohibit a labor union and employer from negotiating union security clauses, which are contract provisions that regulate the collection of union dues. This means that people can choose not to be part of the union and not pay dues at their place of employment, NEA President Marius Grazulis said.
"We feel that right-to-work is going to hurt the workplace, it's not good for Michigan and we believe it will lower wages across state and make the workplace unsafe," Grazulis said. "Without union input, union workers will not have a voice in the safety environment and with wages and benefits."
Negaunee Education Association union members march down Croix Street in Negaunee protesting the right-to-work legislation that is in the state House and Senate. (Journal photo by Adelle Whitefoot)
Gov. Rick Snyder claims right-to-work is not anti-union but Grazulis said it is because the intention of it is to get rid of unions.
"If you are going to tell workers that they don't have to be part of a union, people are going to leave. Everyone wants a bigger paycheck," Grazulis said. "Ultimately in the long run, there isn't going to be a union to voice any of those concerns."
He said unions are important because they give workers due process and a voice in their work environment and benefits.
NEA members marched Monday because they want to show the state and the governor that they don't want the right-to-work legislation signed, Grazulis said.
"Rick Snyder has said that he believes that if right-to-work is passed ... that issue will be behind Michigan," Grazulis said. "We are trying to show him that it's not going to be behind us and it's just the start of the battle because there is going to be a ton of litigation to define exactly what right-to-work really means."
Grazulis said he abhors the way voting in the Legislature has been handled in a lame-duck session.
"Lame-duck sessions are known for being 'do nothings' - you're not going to do anything that's controversial because you have a new Legislature coming in," Grazulis said. "That new Legislature coming in in January is really the voice of the people and they are bypassing it.
"I just feel that it's totally un-American and is not the democratic way of America."
The NEA met up at Lakeview Elementary School in Negaunee, marched down Croix Street to U.S. 41, then east down U.S. 41 to Baldwin Avenue before turning around. As they protested, passing motorists honked their horns to show support of the protesters.
Adelle Whitefoot can be reached at 906-486-4401.