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August 2013: Legislative Update

Medicaid Expansion is Good Public Policy

Sometimes a decision is so simple, so obvious, that it is an outrage when it doesn’t get done. Welcome to the 2013-14 conservative-led State Legislature. Medicaid expansion is one of those decisions; the benefits are there for people, hospitals, business and the state budget, yet ideologues continue to hold it back.

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Joint Statement on Detroit’s Bankruptcy Filing

Joint Statement from Metro Detroit AFL-CIO President Chris Michalakis and Michigan State AFL-CIO President Karla Swift on Detroit’s Bankruptcy Filing

Every step of the way, the citizens of Detroit were told that they had to give up their right to democratic representation in order to avoid bankruptcy. Now that this filing has come anyway, it is clear that either state control has failed or that Governor Snyder and his emergency manager appointee were not honest about their intentions in the first place.

Today’s action can be taken as confirmation that Kevyn Orr was hired, secretly and ahead of a declared financial emergency, because he is a bankruptcy expert.

As Chapter 9 proceedings begin, Detroit cannot afford any further attacks on working families, who have already sacrificed so much without a say in the process. City workers have already made severe concessions to keep the city afloat. It is time to put the needs of Detroit residents above the interests of out of town creditors.

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Hotel Workers Rally for Fairness and Dignity on the Job

Detroit Community Members Urge Crown Plaza to Respect Workers

(Detroit, MI) – Today workers and community allies rallied outside of the Crowne Plaza Hotel on Washington Boulevard, urging the hotel to treat their workers with dignity.  Over the course of four hours, hundreds of supporters pressured the hotel to do the right thing.

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“I know firsthand that staff members are proud to serve Detroit visitors at this historic property, and they should be able to bargain for fair wages and safe working conditions in return,” said Christopher Bryant, a cook at Motor City Casino.  “It is a shame that current workers at Crowne Plaza feel intimidated and we want them to know that they have public support.”

Workers at the former Pontchartrain Hotel location have long been organized in favor of a voice on the job, but new management has refused to show them respect.

“As a union member myself, I know that being able to bargain with my employer sets standards that improve our entire city,” said Maureen Pickar, a Midfield Concessions worker at Metro Airport.  “When service workers aren’t able to speak out and provide for their families, that puts downward pressure on the standard of living for all working people.  Let the workers negotiate and we will all be better off.”

The crowd at today’s rally was optimistic that their efforts will improve treatment for hotel workers and conditions in the community at large.  The mood was upbeat as the crowd chanted, sang and carried signs along Washington Boulevard.

“I no longer work at this hotel, but workers here still have the right to bargain,” said Kim Garr, a banquet server MGM Grand and a former Pontchartrain Hotel employee.  “When our neighbors earn a fair wage for an honest day’s work, it improves our neighborhoods.  That is the only way to rebuild an economy that works for everyone, not just a few at the top.”

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Stand With Panera

Stand with Panera: Workers Protest NLRB Nominations Confirmation Hold Up

Community members stand up for workplace rights

 

(KALAMAZOO, MI) – On Friday, June 21, workers and community members gathered outside of Panera Bread to protest the hold up of nominations to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) which has resulted in specific instances of workplace retaliation for union activity at Panera Bread locations owned by franchisee Bread of Life.

In 2012, Panera Bread bakers at cafes along the I-94 corridor in Michigan voted to join the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union (BCTGM). More than a year since they voted to form a union, workers are still waiting.

“Even though we voted to form a union last year, we still face a hostile work environment,” said Kathleen Von Eitzen a Panera worker at the Battle Creek location. “In order to rebuild our economy here in Michigan and level the playing field for working people across the country, we need an NLRB that works.”

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The NLRB ruled that the company violated Federal Law by failing “to recognize and bargain with the Union as the exclusive collective-bargaining representative of the unit.” The company appealed the decision to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. That court put the case on hold because its holding in another case throws into question the status of current Board members who were recess appointed by President Obama.

“I’m a customer service representative and CWA Local 4123 member, but I’m here to stand in solidarity with Panera workers and other workers who are facing these same fights every day,” said Annette Fox. “No one should fear retaliation from their employer for union activity. In fact, that’s illegal. I hope that the NLRB nominees are confirmed soon so that these workers can see justice upheld.”

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One of the original Panera bakers has been fired by the company for his union activity, with little recourse due to the radical decision of the D.C. Circuit.

“I don’t want anyone else to have to go through what I am going through,” said Kyle Schilling, a union activist who was recently fired from a Kalamazoo Panera. “Justice delayed is justice denied.  The Senate must confirm the NLRB’s nominations so workers like me can get the justice we deserve.”

President Obama has nominated a bi-partisan package of nominees for the National Labor Relations Board. Without approval from the US Senate, the NLRB will be left without quorum to operate and make important decisions that affect workers every day.

 

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