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.
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.
“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.”
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.”
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.”
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.
In 2011, the Labor Movement across the US was fighting defensive battles in wake of the 2010 elections. We began to build broad coalitions to respond to the attacks on working families. It became clear that we needed to define what Michigan’s working families and the Labor Movement as a whole were fighting for. State Federations across the nation came together with community partners in their state to develop a Jobs Plan that would define a pro-working family agenda to promote shared prosperity and move Michigan forward. This was in stark contrast to what we were seeing at that time in the legislature, with numerous attacks on working families in Michigan. As we move forward, the Michigan Labor Movement will continue to keep the elements of this Jobs Plan in front of us as we fight for fair policy and a state that truly demonstrates its belief in the value of workers, their families, and their communities.
(Click here to download a PDF version of the 2012 Jobs Plan)
From the Motor City to the Upper Peninsula, Michigan hands have made the things that have moved people and moved the world. Michigan built the American middle class by paying workers enough to buy the things we make. Michigan succeeded because we chose to think big.
Now is not the time to stop investing in our future. We must support the infrastructure, public services, people and places that made it possible for us to be great and grow a vibrant middle class. Our schools, roads, and clean water systems are the foundation on which to create opportunities, drive innovation and make Michigan great again.
Michigan continues to be challenged by one of the most severe economic downturns it has ever experienced. Global financial problems that brought world economies to the brink of disaster nearly destroyed Michigan’s economy and the effects remain across the shores of Michigan. Workers are suffering from high unemployment and families are bearing the brunt of unemployment insurance and family assistance programs that are strained beyond capacity while being drained of resources by Lansing politicians. Fewer jobs means shrinking economic activity and tax revenues, but even now—when state government is projecting revenue surpluses—our elected leaders resist supporting transportation, education, and other building blocks of a thriving society. We need public investments in our roads, schools, hospitals, arts and recreation to create opportunities and drive innovation. We need to invest in health care and retirement security for our workers—the people who paid into and built our beloved state. Challenging times and our inadequate response to them have tarnished Michigan’s luster. Our ability to innovate, create and rebuild our communities must be restored. We can do this by investing in Michigan’s future.
Good Jobs for Michigan Families
• Michigan needs good jobs now and we shouldn’t reward tax-supported companies that outsource jobs. Instead
of wasting time and money on partisan political agendas like so-called “Right to Work” legislation, our elected
officials should adopt a Keep Jobs in Michigan Act that helps keep Michigan tax dollars working in Michigan.
This bill will ensure Michigan tax dollars are used to create Michigan jobs by making sure that companies that
hold state contracts or receive state assistance don’t ship jobs out of state; Those that do would lose taxpayer
support for five years. We also propose a Buy Michigan, Buy American Act. This will ensure state tax dollars
are used to procure goods made in Michigan or in the United States.
• Another step in having good jobs is to stop destroying the good jobs that are already here. In the past year,
Michigan legislators have introduced and passed legislation that lowers wages and reduces health care and
pension benefits of many workers. Employment must be fulfilling, provide fair wages and benefits, and have a
level of security that offers a maximum level of stability. That security comes from access to decent wages, good
health care and secure pensions. Workers need legislation to protect their health care and pensions from
political interference. Michigan should pass legislation that protects collective bargaining for all workers.
Legislators must stop politicizing the wages and benefits of workers who provide public safety, education, health
care and other needs that serve Michigan every day.
• Michigan also needs reform legislation to hold corporations accountable by preventing wasteful and reckless
private contracting of our public services. A Contract Services Budget Act is needed to provide more
transparency, accountability and efficiency to privatization. It would provide detailed information to public officials
and the public about how much and to whom taxpayer dollars are spent on service contracts.
• Many times private contracts for public services are handed out without knowing the full impact the change will
have on costs or quality of service. A Responsible Contracting Act would require a full economic impact
study be performed before privatizing public services.
• Michigan began efforts toward the development of clean-tech 21st century jobs, but more is needed to capture
the real potential for job growth this economic sector can have on our state. Estimates show that 500,000 jobs
could be created in the coming years. Michigan should be positioned to benefit from this growth. Green to
Gold Revolving Loan Fund legislation would provide businesses the capital they need by establishing a
revolving, low-interest loan fund. This would help with retooling manufacturing facilities that could be used for
• The Michigan Legislature cut corporate taxes by $1.8 billion and slashed funding for schools, police and
firefighters, yet it continues to hand out subsidies and contracts to corporations without holding them
accountable. Private contracts and tax incentives should be strongly linked to job creation in Michigan. Michigan
needs Economic Development and Fiscal Accountability legislation to hold corporations accountable for
the tax dollars they receive from the state.
Investing in Michigan’s Families and Future
• Michigan’s employers and workers are its greatest assets. We excel at working together in cooperation to
improve quality, lower costs, and solve problems. This cooperative and creative labor-management arrangement
can be used to promote Michigan as an innovative place to establish a business.
• Michigan needs to immediately invest in repairing and modernizing transportation and other infrastructure
elements that are critical to rebuilding our economy. Our roads and bridges, water, and sewer systems are
crumbling under the weight of decades of neglect. We need upgraded regional bus routes and modern highspeed
rail to move workers to jobs, and consumers to businesses. The proposed North American International
Trade Crossing must move forward. While President Obama’s American Jobs Act would provide funds to
rebuild roads, bridges, water and sewer systems and schools, Michigan can’t afford to just wait for Congress to
act. We must also urgently take legislative and other actions at the state level that will keep our infrastructure
safe, secure and up-to-date.
• Many job markets of the 21st century will flow to communities that are the best equipped to navigate the
information technology revolution. Michigan communities must have the fastest broadband technologies to
compete. The Michigan Legislature must expand digital communications networks across the state.
• Education is economic development. It’s our future. Our schools are experiencing the strain of a bad economy
and poor public policy that drains resources and talent away from public education. Good schools are the most
important components in building a diverse and sustaining economy in Michigan, yet many school districts are
faced with outdated and crumbling school buildings and too-large class sizes. We need to give
teachers the tools and materials needed to provide students the best education possible. Universities and
colleges produce well-educated people and the research that provides the engine to move our economy along
in an ever-changing world; community colleges work in partnership with employers to provide specific training
needs. Legislation must include a commitment to Michigan’s public pre K-16 education.
• We need to re-make our cities into attractive, safe and healthy places for business and for people to work, live
and visit to enjoy cultural experiences. We need legislation to support our core cities’ rebirth that attracts
business development and tourism.
• Michigan is surrounded by the Great Lakes, which provide beauty, recreation and a bounty of clean water. We
need to protect our waterways from pollution and support our world-class public parks while encouraging
private investment to expand tourism that attracts worldwide visitors.
Repairing Michigan’s Shredded Safety Net
• Michigan families who work hard and play by the rules shouldn’t be abandoned or forced to leave the state
when they are temporarily laid off. Michigan now has the lowest base unemployment benefits in the nation and
new restrictions make it tougher for jobless workers to qualify for help. To keep families from falling through the
cracks of a broken economy and stop the “brain drain” exodus from the state, Michigan lawmakers should
restore unemployment benefits they cut in 2011.
• Innovative partnerships between workers, employers and the state unemployment insurance agency can keep
people on the job longer while Michigan recovers from the current economic crisis. Work Share Programs
should be enacted, allowing employees and employers to agree to scale back hours instead of forcing
businesses to lay off workers.
• In February 2009, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) made $7 billion available to states to modernize their unemployment insurance programs. Michigan failed to pass Unemployment Insurance Modernization legislation in 2011 that would have expanded unemployment insurance coverage to workers forced into part-time work and workers who were attending approved worker-retraining programs. Michigan needs this legislation to assist workers in getting the skills they need for new jobs. This would qualify Michigan to receive its share of the remaining $2.8 billion in federal stimulus funds.
• Safety is critical to keeping workers on the job. Last year the legislature passed Public Act 266, which
diminished workers compensation benefits and Public Act 10, which prohibits MIOSHA from promulgating
ergonomic regulations. Michigan must restore these critical components to workers’ safety.
Ending Workplace Fraud and Employment Discrimination
• Worker Misclassification Fraud hurts both workers and business owners. A growing number of employers
are misclassifying workers as independent contractors in an effort to avoid paying taxes, providing workers’
compensation insurance, paying minimum and overtime wages, or allowing workers to collectively bargain. This
growing phenomenon is costing states millions of dollars in lost payroll and related tax revenue, and denying
workers key safety net benefits and rights. Michigan must take corrective action to halt the misclassification of
workers. Enacting laws that clearly state the definition of employee and employer, target specific sectors with
rampant misclassification, change workers’ compensation and unemployment statutes to target abuse, and
ensure state agencies are collaborating and sharing data.
• You shouldn’t have to have a job to get a job, yet some employers, staffing agencies and online job posting firms
are using recruitment and hiring practices that deny employment to the unemployed—simply because they are
not working. The Fair Chance for Employment Act would make it illegal to post job announcements that
discriminate against the unemployed and make it illegal to refuse to consider hiring the unemployed. The Fair
Chance for Employment Act would allow states to rescind state contracts from companies who practice
hiring discrimination against the unemployed and bar them from future contracts. The Fair Chance for
Employment Act would help eliminate the barriers and uphill battles workers face in trying to reenter the
To move our state forward, we must invest in the people, places and public infrastructure that make Michigan a
great place to live, work and raise a family. These are just some of the steps that should be taken now to create
opportunities, drive innovation, and get Michigan back on track.
We can’t afford to waste time on divisive policies that do nothing to create jobs. It’s time for all of us to start
working together to put Michigan back to work and build an economy that works for everyone.
The supporters of the Michigan 2012 Jobs Plan are ready to work with anyone and everyone to help make this
vision a reality for the people of Michigan.