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Electrical Licensing Saves Lives

The Michigan Senate is considering Senate Bill 358, a bill that would hurt workers and endanger the public by allowing unlicensed electricians to do electrical work. We need to ensure work is done by licensed electricians. Call your senator today to ask them to vote NO on Senate Bill 358.

Click here to find your State Senator and call them TODAY.

This powerful video from the Michigan State Conference of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and the Michigan Chapter of the National Electrical Contractors Association shows the importance of electrical licensing.

 

A vote is scheduled for Wednesday, September 18th in the Senate Reforms Committee at 8:30am.

Click here to find your State Senator and ask them to vote NO on Senate Bill 358 to protect workers and the public.

Andy Dunbar, a licensed electrician, had this to say about the legislation:

“I’m not a lobbyist or a politician, I’m an electrician. Electrical work is dangerous, even for those who have been in the industry for years. I want to keep not only electrical workers, but all workers safe in our state. SB 358 goes too far in removing electrical licensing requirements for manufacturing operations. This is unsafe for workers and for the public. If we start here, where will be end? Let’s keep all workers and manufacturers safe, because ‘electricity doesn’t care, it’s just looking for a path to go.’ I urge you to call your State Senator and tell them to Oppose SB 358.”

Call your Senator today!

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.

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.

At the Capitol: Nurses Are Watching

This is a featured guest post by Ashley E. Forsberg, a registered nurse from Delta Township and Michigan Nurses Association Member. 

Ashley E. Forsberg, RN, has fought for Medicaid expansion on behalf of her patients as part of the Michigan Nurses Association.

Ashley E. Forsberg, RN, has fought for Medicaid expansion on behalf of her patients as part of the Michigan Nurses Association.

I’ve been sitting in the Senate gallery with other nurses, anxiously waiting for our legislators to return from a caucus to vote on Medicaid expansion – HB 4714, a bill that will provide health care coverage to 470,000 Michigan residents. It seems pretty simple.

Sen. Rebekah Warren (D-Ann Arbor) introduced us, members of the Michigan Nurses Association, from the floor as legislators applauded the “red shirts” in the gallery. She’s one of the legislators who understands the issues of nurses and working people.

But I question if most of our elected officials actually are in touch with the citizens of this great state or at least the citizens I see on a daily basis in my hospital for care.  The passage of Medicaid expansion means that some of my patients will be able to afford their diabetic medications and monthly foot care. Which then means my patient saves their limbs from amputation, which ultimately extends and improves their quality of life. To my hospital it means they actually receive compensation for the care I help to provide, rather than writing off the care provided as unpaid and further depressing our state and city’s economy.

I know that we ALL as middle class Americans and citizens of this state have only seen our burdens and expenses increase while our paychecks have remained static.   This portion of the Affordable Care Act implementation will benefit 470,000 people who otherwise couldn’t afford insurance.  And the federal government will pay for it.

I am frustrated that some of our leaders just don’t get it!  I have been in the gallery all day … waiting.  Watching the Republican Senators call for caucus after caucus trying to sway their members on how to vote on such an important bill that means simply … HOPE.  Hope for a successful new beginning of healthcare.  Hope for affordable insurance … for everyone, especially people who work hard day after day and simply don’t make enough money.

An alternative plan, SB 422 by Sen. Caswell was voted down earlier in what seemed a surprise after two hours of caucus. Then the Republican Senators went into caucus again … for another two hours.  This time again they had an undesired outcome: HB 4714 went down, one vote short of passing. Sen. Colbeck, who sponsored another bad alternative, refused to vote – thereby preventing Lt. Gov. Calley from casting the tie-breaking “yes” vote. Now they are in recess again.

I’m sorry, but didn’t you have enough time off fishing to make the BEST decision for MI now???!!!  The citizens of this state need this…. most can’t afford even a fishing license least of all insurance that you, our legislators, have!

Hopefully by the end of the night, the Senate will have found a way to do the right thing for their constituents. Although it’s been frustrating to watch this whole process – from June, when the House voted, to now – it only makes it more clear to me that everyone needs to be engaged in our government.  We have to hold these leaders accountable – they work for us!

We have to keep an eye on our legislators, educate them and make sure they KNOW we’re watching – just as the “red shirts” were today.

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