Press Room

Press releases and statements from the Michigan AFL-CIO.

South Central Michigan Labor Council Endorses Candidates for Battle Creek, Kalamazoo City Commission Elections

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

Statement on Death of Lansing Firefighter Dennis Rodeman

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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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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