Backbone is contagious:

In a scene similar to protests in Madison, Wisc., hundreds of firefighters and union members from around the state have jammed the rotunda of the Michigan Capitol building protesting what they call anti-union legislation percolating in the Legislature.

Loudly chanting, “Shame on you” and “We are union,” the protesters can be heard loudly in the Senate chamber, where bills to strengthen the powers of emergency financial managers for distressed cities and school districts were expected to be acted upon today.

It is the first time a union-led protest — several in recent weeks — has spilled into the Capitol and caused a ruckus. The Senate continued its agenda, but the shouts from the lobby were a distraction.

“They’ve awakened a sleeping giant,” said Bill Black, a lobbyist for the Teamsters union who stood in the crowd closest to the Senate chamber.