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INTERVIEW: AFL-CIO’s Liz Shuler – Has the “American Dream” become the “Impossible Dream”?

The American Dream, according to dictionary.com, is defined as: the ideals of freedom, equality, and opportunity traditionally held to be available to every American, or, a life of personal happiness and material comfort as traditionally sought by individuals in the U.S.

I might suggest that, based on generational differences, the definition of the American Dream might be different from generation to generation. Clearly, though, at least in the world I live in, one has to wonder if it’s time to redefine what the American Dream is. I’m not suggesting that the ideas set forth at dictionary.com are necessarily wrong. At the same time, however, I am concerned that the way it’s defined doesn’t exactly fit into today’s model of what our communities are, what we seek for them to be, and more importantly, how we get there.…

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Why the UAW matters and why it should matter to YOU!

In yesterday’s Detroit Free Press I read an article which I posted on Facebook.  There was an interesting story about the United Auto Workers (@UAW) growing their membership in the South. In the now infamous Volkswagen experiment, although it did not work, the failure was not as a result of the effort of the UAW and their organizers but more as a result of the efforts of those in politics who are threatened by what the UAW represents. And what do they represent? What they represent is freedom. What they represent is quality of life. What they represent is a minimum standard of living.…

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Administrative law judge rules that MEA must allow teachers to leave union at any time

After losing in court countless times, the corporatist front group Mackinac Center has finally won a round. This week, an administrative law judge ruled that the Michigan Education Association (MEA) teachers union must end its decades-old policy of having an “opt-out month” and allow its members to leave at any time. The judge’s ruling is essentially a recommendation to the the Michigan Employment Relations Council (MERC) which has the final say on the matter.

Members of the Michigan Education Association should be able to resign from the union at any time, and not just during the month of August, an administrative law judge ruled this week.…
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As our minimum wages inches up on Labor Day, 40% of Michigan households don’t earn enough to pay their bills

As part of the passage of a new law that did an end-run around citizen efforts to raise Michigan’s minimum wage to $10.10/hour over time, today Michigan’s minimum wage rises to $8.15/hour for non-tipped workers. The minimum wage for tipped workers will be 38% of that starting today, as well. Still, a new report by the United Way shows that 40% of the households in Michigan are either in poverty or are in so-called ALICE households – Asset Limited, Income Constrained and Employed. In other words, two out of five Michigan households don’t make enough money to pay all of their bills each month.…

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Anti-union groups in highly-funded effort to get teachers to freeload and “opt-out” of unions that protect them

For the past several decades, teachers have been able to “opt-out” of their membership in the Michigan Education Association (MEA), the teachers union that bargains collectively on their behalf for good wages, benefits, and working conditions and that is there for them when they are being treated unfairly. During the month of August, teachers that don’t see the benefit of their membership in the MEA were free to leave.

For the past couple of years, the corporate-funded, anti-union group the Mackinac Center has made it their mission in life to get as many teachers to leave the MEA as possible in order to leave them without the funds they need to operate.…

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Corporate front groups pushing laughable “National Employee Freedom Week” and other anti-union efforts

Despite the success of groups like the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), the State Policy Network (SPN) and their affiliates, and other related anti-union corporate front groups in making states like Michigan so-called “Right to Work” states, these same groups are having far less success in actually getting people to leave their unions. In Michigan, for example, only around 1% of their members quit the Michigan Education Association teachers union after Michigan became a right to work state. The fact is that union membership as a percentage of the work force in our state has remained largely flat since right to work was passed and the number of people who belong to a union increased by 4,000 last year.…

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Mackinac Center continues its efforts to encourage freeloading & destroy teachers union with mass mailing

Last week I wrote about how the corporatist front group Mackinac Center had sent a mass email to teachers in over 50 school districts in Michigan encouraging them to leave the Michigan Education Association, one of the two largest teachers unions in the state.

Their effort didn’t stop there. This week, teachers across the state received postcards in the mail urging them to freeload off the work their union does on their behalf to secure reasonable wages and benefits by leaving the union. This shameless effort to destroy the MEA is transparent in its intent: starve the MEA of the funds it needs to operate to help teachers work with the dignity they deserve and to be adequately compensated for the essential service they provide to society.…

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Ford chief: Union bosses and union thugs helped save our company and avoid federal bankruptcy

The UAW is vilified on a regular basis by anti-union corporatists, including their Republican shills in our state legislatures and the federal government. Our domestic vehicle manufacturers are being hobbled and strangled by the “union bosses” and “union thugs” who have the audacity to collectively bargain for good wages and benefits.

Now that the Great Recession is largely in our rear view mirror, we learn that the Ford Motor Company, the only Big Three company that escaped the economic downturn without having to rely on the federal government for assistance and that didn’t go through bankruptcy, got through it largely because of the UAW.…

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Michigan GOP backs down from penalizing MSU for labor course once they actually get all the facts

Michigan GOP’s new motto: “(Over)react first, get the facts later”

Last March, Michigan Republicans announced that they were going to essentially fine Michigan State University a half million dollars for having the audacity to provide courses that were, in their words, “encouraging labor disputes”.

As it turns out, that wasn’t the case at all. The courses were not open to undergraduates or graduates but only to “groups hoping to learn more about union organizing”.

Now that the Republicans have gotten the full story, they have decided not to fine one of our state’s finest institutions of higher learning after all:

“As we’ve made the rounds and talked to a number of members, I think as we give them all information, I think there’s fewer concerns than were originally raised,” said David Bertram, MSU’s assistant vice president for state affairs.
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GUEST POST: Gov. Snyder and lawmakers urged to take steps to meet EPA’s proposed Clean Power Plan

This guest post was written by Sue Browne, Regional Program Manager for the BlueGreen Alliance.

On Tuesday at the Michigan AFL-CIO offices in Lansing, labor and environmental leaders called on Governor Snyder and state and local lawmakers to take the lead in crafting a flexible state plan to help Michigan meet its emissions reduction targets, as laid out in EPA’s Clean Power Plan. The plan includes the first ever proposal of its kind to limit carbon pollution from existing power plants—while also expanding renewable energy and energy efficiency efforts that create jobs across the state.

Mike Schulte, a staff representative with the Communications Workers of America (CWA), Bryan Grochowski of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), and Dave Holtz Chair of the Sierra Club’s Michigan Chapter also advocated for renewing the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS), which is set to expire next year.…

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