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UWUA Taking the Lead on Training Initiative for Consumers Energy Employees

UWUAThe Utility Workers Union of America (UWUA) has announced a new five-year labor agreement with Consumers Energy under which the union will assume a leading role in training employees at Michigan’s largest electric and gas utility.

Under the agreement, union-led training will expand to cover skills development for employees working in natural gas and electric service, power generation and meter reading. Employees participating in the initial wave of training will include more than 100 entry-level workers hired to support Consumers Energy’s enhanced gas system upgrade and replacement program. The training will expand to other positions over the next five years.

“We’re re-creating the model for how unions and management work together to develop and train employees, taking a much different approach than you’ll see at most utilities,” said Steve VanSlooten, executive vice president of the UWUA. “Our goal through this partnership is to set the standard of excellence for training utility employees so they have the skills necessary to provide the best possible service to customers.”

Pat Dillon, president of the Michigan State Utility Workers Council, said the agreement reflects the principles of Labor Day – leveraging the experience, energy and commitment of the union to train and deploy the most highly skilled and safest workers in the industry.

“This agreement builds on the strong partnership we have had with Consumers Energy to improve the skill level of employees by shifting significant new responsibilities for training to the union,” Dillon said.

“This is a game changer in how we train our employees,” said Dan Malone, Senior Vice President of Distribution and Customer Operations for Consumers Energy. “It’s a precedent-setting approach to workforce development under which our union and our company’s management will work together to ensure our organized employees are prepared to provide safe, affordable and reliable service to Consumers Energy’s three million customers in Michigan well into the future.”

“By providing the best environment for learning and skills training for employees, the union will significantly strengthen our commitment to provide excellent and safe service to customers,” Malone said.

Consumers Energy, Michigan’s largest utility, is the principal subsidiary of CMS Energy (NYSE: CMS), providing natural gas and electricity to 6.6 million of the state’s 10 million residents in all 68 Lower Peninsula counties.

For media inquiries regarding this partnership, please contact Brian Wheeler at (517)788-2394.

September 2013: Legislative Update

Medicaid Expansion Passes, but Without Immediate Effect

Medicaid coverage for more than 400,000 low income Michigan residents has been passed by both houses of the legislature and signed by the Governor.

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Low Pay Is Not OK!

Fast food and retail workers are part of a $200 billion industry, yet they are among the lowest paid workers. Today, thousands of workers are striking in Detroit, Flint, Lansing, Pontiac and across the nation to take a stand for a higher minimum wage.

Click here to add your support to the fight for a higher minimum wage.

Fast Food Strike

The typical fast food and retail worker makes $7.40/hour. A worker who works full time at minimum wage brings home just over $15,000/year, which is poverty level. Few workers are offered full time, so most are making less than that with no health benefits whatsoever.

Every worker deserves the right to a living wage and a voice on the job. Poverty level wages are not enough to raise a family on. Had minimum wage kept up with inflation, it would be over $21/hour! Fast food and retail workers deserve to be paid a fair living wage!

Click here to show your support for low-wage workers today.

The Michigan State AFL-CIO stands in solidarity with low-wage workers in their fight for a living wage. Click here for President Swift’s statement on the Fast Food Strikes.

Fast Food Strikes Statement from President Swift

The Michigan State AFL-CIO stands in solidarity with the thousands of low-wage workers who are on strike in Detroit, Flint, Lansing, Pontiac and across the nation today. Every worker deserves the right to a living wage and a voice on the job. Our elected representatives must enact federal and state minimum wage standards that reflect the values of this country. People who  work every day should be able to support themselves and their families.

Over the past decade, worker productivity has continued to grow but wages have remained stagnant and even declined. If minimum wage had kept up with inflation, it would be around $21 per hour. Raising the minimum wage will ultimately increase the standard of living for all working people and ensure that every family is able to rise out of poverty.

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Media Contact: Sara Wallenfang
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