KALAMAZOO – Students from Western Michigan University gathered on campus today to oppose new legislation introduced by Sen. Margaret O’Brien (R-Portage) that would cut the minimum wage by 15 percent for workers under the age of 20. O’Brien’s bill, SB 250, would cut the wages of 18 and 19-year-old college students who work minimum wage jobs, even though they are old enough to vote, sign legal contracts, and enlist in the Armed Forces.
“This bill is bad news for college students,” said Danielle Snow, a sophomore majoring in Sociology. “This is going to mean thousands of students who work minimum wage jobs will have to take a pay cut, even though we’re old enough to vote. That’s just wrong. Everyone who works for a living deserves to be paid enough to make ends meet and have a decent life. I hope Sen. O’Brien will do the right thing and withdraw her bill.”
In 2014, Republicans and Democrats in Lansing voted to pass bipartisan legislation that will raise Michigan’s minimum wage to $9.25 by 2018. The new law raise the wages of over 1 million Michigan workers by the time it takes full effect.
O’Brien’s bill represents a step backwards, and will be especially harmful to the thousands of college students she represents on campuses like WMU, Kalamazoo College, and Kalamazoo Valley Community College.
“College is expensive enough as it is, and the last thing students can afford is a pay cut,” said Cory King, a political science major entering his senior year. “Cutting wages and denying young workers from earning the full minimum wage will make it harder to afford basic things like books, groceries, and rent. People’s hard work should be recognized and rewarded, regardless of their age. Sen. O’Brien needs to get her priorities straight and focus on raising wages for all working people.”
At the current minimum wage of $8.15 per hour, a full-time worker earns $16,952 per year. However, if SB 250 becomes law, the same worker would have their paycheck cut by $2,542 per year.
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Labor Council backs Faris, Helmboldt, Flores, Gray in Battle Creek; Cooney in Kalamazoo
BATTLE CREEK – Today the South Central Michigan Labor Council announced its endorsements for the upcoming city commission elections in Battle Creek and Kalamazoo. In the election for Battle Creek City Commission, the Labor Council has endorsed Kaytee Faris and Andy Helmboldt for the at-large seats, Lynn Ward Gray in Ward 2, and Kate Flores in Ward 3. For the Kalamazoo City Commission, the Labor Council has endorsed Don Cooney.
“To build vibrant communities, we need local elected officials who will get up and fight for working people each and every day,” said Jonathan Byrd, President of the South Central Michigan Labor Council. “All of these candidates have the right set of skills, values, and experience to make cities like Kalamazoo and Battle Creek even stronger. Our affiliates are ready to knock on doors, make phone calls, and get people to the polls on November 3.”
Candidates seeking endorsement for City Commission races were invited to complete a survey, and conduct an in-person interview with the Labor Council.
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The South Central Michigan Labor Council is a coalition of local labor unions, representing thousands of union members in Barry, Branch, Calhoun, Kalamazoo, and St. Joseph counties
LANSING – Michigan AFL-CIO President Ron Bieber issued the following statement on the death of Lansing firefighter Dennis Rodeman:
“This is a truly horrible tragedy. Our union brother Dennis Rodeman dedicated his life to public service, first as a U.S. Marine serving in Iraq, and then as a member of Lansing Area Fire Fighters Local 421. It is our sincere hope that the coward who committed this heinous act will be brought to justice. The Michigan AFL-CIO extends our deepest sympathies to Brother Rodeman’s wife and family.”
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Labor Day is almost here, and we wanted to let you know about a few fun Labor Day events coming up in Muskegon, Grand Rapids, Flint, and Detroit.
Muskegon: The Muskegon Labor Day parade kicks off at 11am on Monday. There will be a celebration after the parade at the CIO Hall with food, bounce houses, games, prizes, and more. RSVP for the Muskegon celebration here.
Grand Rapids: Labor Fest 2015 is located Ah-Nab-Awen Park from 11am-5pm on Monday. There will be labor exhibits, free admission to the Ford museum, live music, food vendors, activities for kids, and a car and motorcycle show. RSVP for Grand Rapids Labor Fest here.
Flint: UAW Region 1D is hosting a Labor Day program and cook-out on Monday, starting at 10:30am. There will be a short program honoring Sit-down Strikers and Women Emergency Brigade Members, followed by a hot dog and hamburger cook-out. RSVP for the Flint Labor Day event here.
Detroit: The Metro Detroit AFL-CIO is hosting the annual Solidarity Walk on Monday morning, starting at 9am. There will be free food, ice cream, activities for kids, and a short program. RSVP for the Detroit Solidarity Walk here.
Whatever you do this weekend, we should all take some time to remind ourselves that America’s working people and union members are all about working for a better life.