Press Room

Press releases and statements from the Michigan AFL-CIO.

New Website Sends Coal to Lansing Politicians Who Made Voting Harder in Michigan holds politicians accountable for passing legislation to repeal straight-party voting

LANSING – Today the Michigan AFL-CIO launched a new website to hold lawmakers accountable for passing legislation last night that will make voting harder in Michigan. allows voters to send a letter to their state representative on Senate Bill 13, which will eliminate straight-party voting in Michigan. Legislators who voted for these bills will be placed on Santa’s “Naughty List,” and receive a lump of coal for the holidays.

“We should be making it easier to vote in Michigan, not harder,” said Ron Bieber, President of the Michigan AFL-CIO. “This legislation will mean longer lines at the polls next year, plain and simple. Making it harder for seniors and people of color to make their voice heard at the ballot box is downright un-American. We’re putting Lansing politicians on notice that they should go back to the drawing board and work on legislation that expands access to voting. Otherwise, we will be notifying the one million active and retired union members in Michigan about how their elected officials voted on these important bills.”

On behalf of Michigan’s working people, the Michigan AFL-CIO will deliver lumps of coal to the offices of state legislators who voted for SB 13 and SB 639 prior to the legislature’s holiday recess.

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GOP Road Bill Won’t Actually Fix Roads

Fuzzy math, accounting gimmicks mean no new road funding for at least two years

LANSING – The Michigan AFL-CIO released the following statement today from President Ron Bieber commenting on the latest Lansing Republican road bill:

“This bill is based on fuzzy math and accounting gimmicks, and it won’t do anything to actually fix our roads for at least two years. You don’t fix the roads by cutting education, public safety, and health care, and you don’t fix the roads by giving tax breaks to millionaires while raising taxes on working people. The numbers just don’t add up, and our roads will continue to deteriorate for years to come. Governor Snyder should do the right thing by vetoing this budget-busting bill, and pushing for a truly bipartisan solution that requires everyone to pay their fair share to fix our roads.”

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Western Michigan Students Speak Out Against Sen. O’Brien’s Bill to Cut Minimum Wage

KALAMAZOO – Students from Western Michigan University gathered on campus today to oppose new legislation introduced by Sen. Margaret O’Brien (R-Portage) that would cut the minimum wage by 15 percent for workers under the age of 20. O’Brien’s bill, SB 250, would cut the wages of 18 and 19-year-old college students who work minimum wage jobs, even though they are old enough to vote, sign legal contracts, and enlist in the Armed Forces.

“This bill is bad news for college students,” said Danielle Snow, a sophomore majoring in Sociology. “This is going to mean thousands of students who work minimum wage jobs will have to take a pay cut, even though we’re old enough to vote. That’s just wrong. Everyone who works for a living deserves to be paid enough to make ends meet and have a decent life. I hope Sen. O’Brien will do the right thing and withdraw her bill.”

In 2014, Republicans and Democrats in Lansing voted to pass bipartisan legislation that will raise Michigan’s minimum wage to $9.25 by 2018. The new law raise the wages of over 1 million Michigan workers by the time it takes full effect.

O’Brien’s bill represents a step backwards, and will be especially harmful to the thousands of college students she represents on campuses like WMU, Kalamazoo College, and Kalamazoo Valley Community College.

“College is expensive enough as it is, and the last thing students can afford is a pay cut,” said Cory King, a political science major entering his senior year. “Cutting wages and denying young workers from earning the full minimum wage will make it harder to afford basic things like books, groceries, and rent. People’s hard work should be recognized and rewarded, regardless of their age. Sen. O’Brien needs to get her priorities straight and focus on raising wages for all working people.”

At the current minimum wage of $8.15 per hour, a full-time worker earns $16,952 per year. However, if SB 250 becomes law, the same worker would have their paycheck cut by $2,542 per year.

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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

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