Wisconsin labor leaders are rallying to the support of their beleaguered brethren in Michigan.
Randy Bryce, an organizer for Ironworkers Local 8, is putting together a group of workers from Wisconsin and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula to join the protest legislation pushed by Gov. Rick Snyder and Republicans in the Legislature to make Michigan a right-to-work state.
Bryce, a Racine County ironworker who was involved in similar protest against anti-labor legislation in Wisconsin, said the issues involved are even greater in Michigan.
“A lot of things are eerily similar to parts of what happened here in Wisconsin,” said Bryce, who expects 40 to 50 people from his union to travel to Lansing, Mich., by Tuesday when lawmakers reconvene and Snyder plans to sign the bills into law. “I would say what’s under attack there is even bigger because they decided to go after the public- and private-sector unions.”
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Bryce said he’s been in contact with other state labor leaders who also are trying to organize groups to travel to Michigan.
With Republicans in full control of Michigan’s state government, Bryce is realistic about the chances of protesters actually affecting the outcome. But he’s not about to stand by idly.
“It’s not hard to rally up,” said Bryce. “It’s just being in a constant state of alertness. That’s just the cycle we seem to be going through right now.
“I would hope that more is done than just raising voices. We saw in Wisconsin that large groups of people getting together stalled it for a while. But I would hope that we learned that just getting together and doing laps around the Capitol isn’t going to stop committed politicians from doing what they want to do.”
Earlier this year, Bryce was an unsuccessful candidate for the 62nd state Assembly District in northeast Racine County. He lost the Democratic primary in August to health educator Melissa Lemke, who in turn was defeated in the November general election by Republican Tom Weatherston, a Caledonia village trustee.