Press Room

Press releases and statements from the Michigan AFL-CIO.

Michigan AFL-CIO Launches Petition to Support Grand Rapids Transit Workers

LANSING – Today the Michigan AFL-CIO launched an online petition aimed at supporting Grand Rapids transit employees. The state labor federation is gathering signatures from taxpayers telling Peter Varga, CEO of The Rapid, to reach a fair and just contract with members of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 836.

“Grand Rapids’ hardworking bus drivers deserve a decent living, safe working conditions, and the chance to retire with dignity,” said Ron Bieber, President of the Michigan AFL-CIO. “It’s great to see Grand Rapids is doing better, but with 26 percent of the city’s residents living below the poverty line, we can’t afford to let it become a place where all of the gains go to the folks at the top, while working families are forced to keep paying more and more.

“At a salary of $200,000 per year, Mr. Varga makes $41,000 more than Governor Snyder. Now he wants bus drivers who keep the city moving to give up their retirement security? That’s just not right. It’s time for Varga to stop the political games, and focus on making Grand Rapids a place that creates opportunity for all. He can make it happen by reaching a fair contract with members of ATU Local 836.”

A copy of the Michigan AFL-CIO’s petition can be viewed here.

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President’s New Overtime Rule Will Benefit 100k Michigan Workers

LANSING – Today the Michigan AFL-CIO released the following statement on President Obama’s new overtime rule, which will benefit 100,000 Michigan workers:

“This new rule will help 100,000 Michigan workers get the overtime pay they deserve,” said Ron Bieber, President of the Michigan AFL-CIO. “Restoring overtime protections and putting more money in working families’ pockets will help boost our entire economy.

“Since 1975, overtime protections have been gutted by inflation without a significant adjustment. By indexing the threshold for overtime pay to inflation, the new rule will help protect wages from being eroded by rising costs going forward.

“Make no mistake, this new rule is an important first step for the Raising Wages Agenda that will help level the playing field for women, African Americans, Hispanics, and younger workers under age 35. But many more workers will still be denied overtime pay by their employer. Moving forward, Michigan’s labor movement will keep fighting to make sure this proposal is fully implemented, until every worker is paid fairly for the work they do.”

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Walberg Votes for Another Bad Trade Deal

Fast Track legislation makes it easier to ship Michigan jobs overseas

LANSING – Michigan AFL-CIO President Ron Bieber issued the following statement today, following U.S. Rep. Tim Walberg’s votes to advance so-called “Fast Track” legislation.

“Tim Walberg has a long record of supporting unfair trade deals and outsourcing, and today’s vote is another reminder that he’s not on the side of working families,” said Bieber. “Bad trade deals like NAFTA have already cost our communities tens of thousands of good-paying manufacturing jobs. Last year alone, Michigan’s trade deficit was $66.8 billion. Fast Tracking the Trans-Pacific Partnership will only make it easier for big corporations to send more Michigan jobs overseas. The people of Michigan deserve better from Tim Walberg.”

Tim Walberg has long defended unfair trade agreements, like NAFTA. Walberg has falsely claimed that NAFTA “has been proven to have supplied more jobs of equal or better pay to our country over the course of time.”

Michigan lost 254,763 manufacturing jobs during the NAFTA-WTO period (1994-2014), according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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State Intrusion Bill Guts Local Control of Schools, Jobs, Wages

HB 4052 Gives More Power to Lansing Politicians, Special Interests

LANSING – Michigan AFL-CIO President Ron Bieber issued the following statement today on House Bill 4052, which advanced to the floor of the Michigan Senate following a vote in the Competitiveness Committee.

“This is blatant power grab by Lansing Republicans, plain and simple,” said Bieber. “House Bill 4052 will take away local control of schools, and make it harder to ensure local jobs go to local workers. While Republicans say they want smaller government, this bill actually takes power away from our local communities, and hands it over to politicians and special interests in Lansing. It’s time for our leaders to focus on making our economy work for all of us, and not just the folks at the top.”

The Republican-dominated committee also rejected a commonsense amendment by Sen. Rebekah Warren (D-Ann Arbor) that would have preserved the right for citizens to pass local ballot measures that protect working families.

House Bill 4052 is sponsored by Rep. Earl Poleski (R-Jackson). Earlier this month, the Jackson and Ann Arbor City Councils passed resolutions opposing the bill.

“Cities like Jackson need the freedom and flexibility to adopt policies that create good jobs for local workers that pay fair wages,” said Jason Smith, Mayor of the City of Jackson. “Unfortunately, this bill guts local control, and makes it harder for local communities to pass ordinances that protect working families and small businesses. The Legislature should reject this shortsighted bill, and if it reaches his desk, Governor Snyder should veto it to protect local control.”

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