At a news conference at the George W. Romney Building steps away from the state Capitol, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R) announced that he'd signed the contentious right-to-work measures that have sparked protests in the state.
Before dozens of reporters assembled inside a conference room on the building's second floor, Snyder defended his move as one that would lead to "more jobs coming to Michigan."
The two bills bar unions from making contracts that require employees to pay labor dues. One bill dealt with public sector unions, exempting firefighters and police officers. The other covered the private sector.
"I view this as simply trying to get this issue behind us," Snyder said of his decision to sign the measures the day they were passed. "And I recognize that people are going to be upset. There'll be a continuation. But hopefully what's really going to transpire over time is you're going to see workers making a choice and you'll see unions being held more accountable and responsive."
Outside the building, while the news conference was underway, some few dozen protesters were still chanting in the frigid evening air. A few yelled out, "F*** Snyder!" Some held signs reading, "Right to work? For less!" and "I've got a bone to pick with a dirty rat named Rick."
After Snyder finished speaking, protesters outside the building marched in a circle and chanted, "The people united can never be divided." They were outnumbered by dozens of state police officers, many from other parts of Michigan, wearing helmets and riot gear.
One protester spoke on a bullhorn and encouraged the crowd to greet Snyder at an upcoming public appearance -- his Saturday morning commencement speech at Michigan State University.
A few minutes later, the crowd had dispersed, walking down Michigan Ave. away from the Capitol and the towering red-and-green Christmas tree outside of it.
Susan Seitz, a 56-year-old retired auto worker and Democrat, drove an hour
and 20 minutes from Flint to attend the protest.
She said she didn't know what might be next but that Snyder's "union-busting" move could serve as a wake-up call for those who may have voted against the November ballot initiative, or not voted on it at all.
"I don't think we're going to go away, the people who think this is totally wrong," she said. "On Thursday, the bill just came out of nowhere. ... I don't know if it's retaliation for us trying to get a collective bargaining proposal through during election time ... I don't know. For two years, he's been saying he wouldn't do this. It's politics."