Members of the Michigan Nurses Association are protesting right-to-work legislation at the state Capitol by covering their mouths with tape.
About a dozen nurses stood on the Capitol steps in Lansing on Monday morning. Organizers say the gathering was meant to symbolize the silencing of unions that nurses say will happen should the legislation become law.
Katie Oppenheim, who works at the University of Michigan Health System, says the legislation would leave them with "no security" and "no rights."
"Nurses are outraged at Gov. Snyder’s war on workers, knowing that the wounds he is inflicting on our state will hurt for decades to come," said Oppenheim, "Our union is our voice in the workplace, and nurses use that voice every single day to keep patients safe against corporations that only care about their profits. Gov. Snyder and CEOs are using ‘Right to Work’ to shut workers up, pure and simple."
The Rev. Greg Martin of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Greater Lansing was on the Capitol steps to speak on behalf of the nurses and the faith community, which condemns the Governor’s blatant effort to appease corporate special interests and right-wing politicians at any cost to Michigan’s families. He said the labor movement has promoted social justice and economic equality in our country, and RTW aims to end that.
"Nurses have the power to heal, while corporations have only the power to profit – and under “Right to Work” in Michigan, corporations will gain even more power," Martin said. "There can be no justice in our country if corporations continue to reap record profits while working families continue to struggle. ‘Right to Work’ devalues the work and dignity of all individuals. As a leader in the faith community, I would ask Gov. Snyder to bring people together and build our state up instead of tearing it down. It would be a shame to watch as RTW hurts all Michigan workers and destroys so much of what is good about our communities."
Hundreds of chanting, whistle-blowing demonstrators thronged the Capitol last week as bills were introduced and approved hours later.
More are expected Tuesday, when the House and Senate may reconcile wording differences. Republican Gov. Rick Snyder has said he'd sign the legislation.