State Representative Douglas Geiss told the Michigan House of Representatives that “There will be blood…I do not see peace” over Right to Work bill.
Geiss, a Michigan Union leader and Democrat in the Michigan state legislature, promised the house floor, “We are going to undo 100 of labor relations...there will be blood.” Geiss continued, “we will relive the Battle of the Overpass.”
The Battle of the Overpass is a historical account of a labor struggle that reached a turning point with theNational Labor Relations Act in 1935. The act sought to stop employer, employee and Michigan unions from engaging in unfair practices and established worker rights to collective bargaining.
In May of 1937, a permit was obtained by Michigan union organizers to distribute handbills at the gates of the Ford Motor Company’s Rouge plant. Ford, resistant to the work of the United Auto Workers (UAW) union, stood strongly on an anti-union stance. As pro-union crowd gathers at the entrance, located at the end of an overpass across Miller Road, Ford stationed several men around the entrance to include Angelo Caruso, boss of the Down River gang, wrestlers Warshon Sarkisien and Ted Gries, boxer Oscar Jones, and Ford servicemen.
After several hours, union organizers were ordered to leave. Not to be deterred, and Led by Richard T. Frankensteen and Walter P. Reuther, union organizers attacked those stationed around the gate. It didn’t end up well for members of the UAW. Forced to defend themselves, Ford stationers left their attackers with an everlasting memory towards those who chose to protest in violence instead of peace, in support of big unions. Frankensteen was beat into submission. Reuther was pickup, thrown down and beaten in the face.
In the end, the National Labor Relations Board slapped an unjust charge against Ford for violating the Wagner Act. The NLRBN found Ford guilty of interfering with union organizers, even though it was the organizers that led the attack on the Rouge plant.
As Geiss threatened similar action by Michigan union organizers today, unrest has already erupted in the state of Michigan. Union members have already resorted to violence as they stormed and tore down a tent erected by Americans for Prosperity.
Mark Meadows, a House Democrat in the Michigan State Legislature, gave his take on the situation. “I was hoping that this day would never come,” he said. “In the last two years there’s been a chipping away at bargaining. But today, the corporations delivered the coup de grâce.”
As tension intensifies and angry protesters inch closer to violence, preparations are underway. Reported by the New York Times:
“Streets around the Capitol were also closed to traffic and clusters of state police, some equipped with riot gear, kept posts throughout the building and along nearby streets. At least two school districts around the state announced that they would close for the day, as word spread that teachers and other workers planned to protest in Lansing.”
Careful what you wish for Geiss and learn your history. If violence is what you promote, you might get it.