Press Room

Press releases and statements from the Michigan AFL-CIO.

Statement on Resignation of Darnell Earley, Legislation Punishing Detroit Teachers

LANSING – The Michigan AFL-CIO issued the following statement today commenting on the resignation of Darnell Earley, and legislation passed by the Senate Education Committee that punishes Detroit teachers for speaking up on behalf of their students.

“Darnell Earley was a complete disaster as the Emergency Manager of Detroit Public Schools and the City of Flint,” said Ron Bieber, President of the Michigan AFL-CIO. “But let’s be clear, Rick Snyder is the one who’s ultimately responsible for Earley’s failures in Flint and Detroit.

“It’s time for the governor to step up and work with both parties in Lansing to deliver immediate relief to schools in Detroit, where our students are being forced to learn in deplorable classrooms with crumbling ceilings, mold, dead rats, and insufficient heating. No child should ever have to learn in schools with such dire conditions.

“That’s why today’s vote in the Michigan Senate to punish Detroit teachers is such an outrage. These men and women are on the front lines every day fighting to protect their students. Fannie Lou Hamer said it best, teachers are ‘sick and tired of being sick and tired.’ The last thing we should be doing is punishing teachers for speaking up and shining a light on the classrooms their students are forced to learn in.

“Governor Snyder needs to stop treating Flint and DPS like public relations problems, and start doing what’s right for the people of Michigan.”

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New Data: Michigan Union Membership Increased in 2015

Michigan unions added 36,000 members last year

LANSING – The Bureau of Labor Statistics released new data today that show the percent of wage and salary workers in Michigan who were members of unions increased from 14.5 percent in 2014 to 15.2 percent in 2015. Labor unions in Michigan added approximately 36,000 new members last year.

“This is good news for all working people in Michigan,” said Ron Bieber, President of the Michigan AFL-CIO. “Despite the unrelenting attacks from Lansing politicians, working people understand the value of collective bargaining. A union contract gives working people the power to speak up together with one clear voice for fair wages, strong benefits, and time to be with family. And when working people earn wages that can sustain a family, it helps our small businesses and creates more jobs. Lansing needs to get the message, and start working together to make Michigan’s economy work for all of us, not just the wealthy.”

Nationally, the union membership rate held steady at 11.1 percent from 2014 to 2015.

Michigan was one of the only Great Lakes states to see an increase in union membership in 2015: Ohio was down from 12.4 percent in 2014 to 12.3 percent in 2015; Indiana was down from 10.7 percent in 2014 to 10.0 percent in 2015; Illinois was up from 15.1 percent in 2014 to 15.2 percent in 2015; Wisconsin was down from 11.7 percent in 2014 to 8.3 percent in 2015; and Minnesota was unchanged from 14.2 percent in 2014 to 14.2 percent in 2015.

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Statements from Michigan AFL-CIO, Flint Labor Council on Governor’s State of the State

LANSING – The Michigan AFL-CIO and Flint Central Labor Council released the following statements in response to Governor Rick Snyder’s State of the State speech:

“The people of Flint deserve answers and accountability, but the governor didn’t provide either tonight,” said Ron Bieber, President of the Michigan AFL-CIO. “Until the governor waives his FOIA exemption and releases all materials on the Flint water crisis – including those from his senior staff – his promise to release a handpicked number of emails is hollow. To help the people of Flint start to heal and ensure a disaster like this never happens again, the governor needs to be fully transparent with the public and start telling the truth.”

“It seems pretty clear that Rick Snyder still doesn’t get it,” said Sam Muma, President of the Greater Flint Central Labor Council. “Our city needs sustained, long-term resources from the state to clean up the mess that Snyder created, and on that front, the governor’s speech fell short. All I heard were more empty promises from a politician who’s desperate to dodge the blame. Snyder needs to start being straight with people and show real leadership if he’s ever going to help Flint recover.”

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Michigan AFL-CIO Statement on Gov. Snyder Signing Bill to Make Voting Harder in Michigan

Bill to eliminate straight-party voting “just plain wrong”

LANSING – Michigan AFL-CIO President Ron Bieber issued the following statement today commenting on Governor Rick Snyder signing Senate Bill 13, which will make voting harder in Michigan.

“This law will make it harder for people to vote in Michigan, and that’s just plain wrong,” said Ron Bieber. “Local clerks from all over the state testified that this bill will mean even longer lines at the polls this November – hurting our seniors, and voters who live in urban communities. It’s pretty clear that Governor Snyder and Lansing Republicans didn’t listen and don’t care. Instead of creating new barriers to the ballot box, they should be working to expand access to voting through no-reason absentee voting and expanded early voting. The people of Michigan deserve better.”

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