Over the past few months, teachers in the Detroit Public Schools (DPS) have had to resort to “sick outs” to get attention to the egregious working and teaching conditions they and their students are being forced to contend with. From black mold, rats, and cockroaches to warped gym floors and, this past week, the threat that they would not be paid for their work because the district is out of money, none of these issues would have been made public without them taking these measures. By law, teachers in Michigan are not allowed to go on strike so sick outs have been their only recourse.…Read more ›
I received a press release the other day from the Michigan State AFL-CIO, the umbrella federation for U.S. and Michigan unions. The group is made up of 56 unions representing 12.5 million working men and women. The headline made me smile and sent a glimmer of sunshine in what has been some very dark days for people of conscience and passion in Michigan.
The headline read simply: New Data: Michigan Union Membership Increased in 2015: Michigan unions added 36,000 members last year
Happily, Michigan is not alone in its increase in membership. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 24 states saw an increase in union membership, and although there is a great deal of room for growth, after too many years of union membership decreased, mostly because of a horrid economy and bad Republican economic policy, wages in union states, as have been reported for many decades now, are increasing for union households and furthermore in non-union households they are making about 21% less than Union households.…Read more ›
The future of public sector unions, and perhaps organized labor, lies firmly in the hands of the U.S. Supreme Court
2015 was by many accounts a good year for our Liberal agenda as it related to decisions made by the U.S. Supreme Court. The affirmation of the Affordable Care Act and the victory of marriage equality for all were important and historical steps in reality and it was, I should add, a reflection of what many of us, no matter your political will, agreed were the right decisions to make. But, as many of us are fully aware, just because a majority agrees with a point of view does not guarantee a victory in the courts.
Today the United State Supreme Court will begin to hear oral arguments on a landmark case that originated in Detroit which could overturn a decision that has been upheld for 39 years.…Read more ›
Michigan Republicans’ effort to slash minimum wage for 18 and 19-year olds is still alive and still wrong
Back in June I reported on legislation – Senate Bill 250 which would cut the minimum wage for 18 and 19 year olds to 85% of the level for everyone else. In defending it, the sponsor, Margaret O’Brien, claimed that it was necessary because “Most of the employers I’ve talked to in my community do not have a youth training wage but they feel having a youth minimum wage will resolve their issues.” The fact is that Michigan DOES have a youth minimum wage. It applies to young people under the age of 18. And, if you’re under 20, employers can pay you 85% of the minimum wage for the first 90 days of employment which is considered a training period.…Read more ›
Anti-labor corporatist group wastes over $1 million on failed petition drive to end prevailing wage in Michigan
The anti-labor group Protecting Michigan Taxpayers (PMT) was formed in 2012 as a front group for anti-union forces who wanted to defeat Proposal 2 which would have enshrined collective bargaining rights for workers into Michigan’s state constitution. The group had been dormant since their victory in November of 2012 but was resurrected last spring to push a ballot initiative of their own, one which will repeal Michigan’s prevailing wage law which helps maintain decent wages for construction workers in our state.
Their effort is an indirect initiated state statute which requires collecting 8% of the number of votes cast for the governor in the last gubernatorial election.…Read more ›
Yesterday, the United Auto Workers notified Fiat-Chrysler US (FCA) that if a new tentative bargaining agreement is not reached by 11:59PM tonight (Wednesday, October 7th) they’ll call a strike. Workers at all of the Detroit Three automakers have been working under temporary contract extensions since their previous agreement expired September 14. The UAW targeted Fiat-Chrysler for early negotiations and reached a tentative deal early on the morning of September 15, but the UAW’s rank-and-file torpedoed that agreement last week, as a 65% majority voted it down.
Sticking points in the negotiations include a two-tiered wage system introduced while the automakers were struggling back in 2007 and a “flex” scheduling system currently in place at FCA.…Read more ›
When Scott Walker announced his candidacy for president in July of this year, labor supporters across the country collectively groaned that the thought that anyone at all would consider voting for the anti-worker, Koch brothers puppet. Richard Trumka, the president of the AFL-CIO put out a press release with just six words:
Yesterday, Scott Walker announced he is dropping out of the race having polled exactly 0% in a national poll released the past Sunday. Richard Trumka released a second press release, this one with ten words:
Last February, Denno Research released a poll conducted for Mothering Justice and the Economic Justice Alliance of Michigan that shows overwhelming support for requiring Michigan employers to provide time off for workers who are sick or who need to care for sick families members. Their poll of 600 respondents throughout the state showed that an astonishing 86% of Michiganders favor workers earning paid sick days. An equally astonishing 83% of them support making this the law.
The Time to Care Coalition, which includes the Economic Justice Alliance of Michigan, MOSES, Restaurant Opportunity Center United (ROC), Mothering Justice, Detroit People’s Platform and the Michigan League for Public Policy, is now working to make that happen.…Read more ›
Now comes a strange request from the newest “traitor to his class,” Peter Georgescu, former chairman of Young and Rubicam, the ad and media agency. In Sunday’s New York Times, Georgescu, himself a classic American success story, makes the case for taking action to ameliorate income inequality. He warns that a failure to address the problem will result in one of two awful things (likely two): sweeping social unrest (riots) or crushingly high tax rates.
Georgescu implies that Thomas Piketty’s ground breaking book Capital in the Twenty-First Century has been eye-opening for many of the nation’s self-made rich, so much so that a group of them has been conducting regular meetings to brainstorm actions that can be taken to head off the two dreaded outcomes.…Read more ›
I recently wrote about Michigan teacher Mary Davenport, a woman who had received hundreds of thousands of dollars in support from her union, the Michigan Education Association (MEA), only to turn around and claim they “weren’t there when she needed them.” She was duped into being the poster child for the campaign by the corporate front group Mackinac Center to encourage teachers to leave their union.
In the letter Davenport signed that was sent to thousands of Michigan teachers using their taxpayer-funded work email addresses, Davenport railed against what Mackinac Center calls “pension spiking” by MEA president Steve Cook whose pension will be based on his MEA salary.…Read more ›
In their neverending quest to screw over workers to benefit employers, Republicans in Michigan are now turning their attention to those making minimum wage. A bill that would lower the minimum wage by 15% for those under 20 years old was passed out of the Senate Commerce Committee today.
The bill’s sponsor, Senator Margaret O’Brien (R-Portage), claims it will solve a problem which doesn’t actually exist.
Under current law, employers can pay people under 18 either 85 percent of Michigan’s minimum wage or the federal minimum wage, whichever is greater.…