Press Room

Press releases and statements from the Michigan AFL-CIO.

Michigan AFL-CIO Names Winnie Brinks, Curtis Hertel Jr. Legislators of the Year

Detroit City Council President Brenda Jones named Local Elected Official of the Year

Lansing – Today the Michigan AFL-CIO named Sen. Curtis Hertel, Jr. (D-East Lansing) and Rep. Winnie Brinks (D-Grand Rapids) as its Legislators of the Year for 2018. Detroit City Council President Brenda Jones was also named Local Elected Official of the Year. The awards were announced at the state labor federation’s legislative convention at UAW Region 1 in Warren.

“These awards are all about honoring leaders who get up every day and fight for legislation that helps create good jobs and build a strong economy for Michigan’s working families. ,” said Ron Bieber, President of the Michigan AFL-CIO. “Michigan’s working men and women are fortunate to have hardworking elected officials like Winnie, Curtis, and Brenda fighting on our behalf each and every day. They each have strong voting records, and they know whose side they’re on. We’re thrilled to honor these dedicated public servants for the important work they do.”

Sen. Hertel was awarded for leading the charge to finally allocate money for the First Responders Presumed Coverage Fund, which provides workers’ compensation and medical coverage for 10 different types of cancer to our first responders. Hertel had a 100 percent voting record on the Michigan AFL-CIO’s 2015-2016 legislative scorecard.

“It is an incredible privilege to be honored by an organization that does so much for the people of this state, and which has spearheaded the fight for better working conditions and fairer wages,” said Hertel. “I will remain vigilant and outspoken in the struggle for social and economic justice, and I am proud to stand in solidarity with the men and women of the AFL-CIO in this fight.”

Rep. Brinks was awarded for her leadership fighting for the men and women living at the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans. Brinks has worked tirelessly to hold Governor Snyder’s administration accountable for its failed privatization at the veterans’ home, and ensure our veterans receive the care they have earned. Brinks also received a 100 percent voting record on the labor federation’s 2015-2016 legislative scorecard.

“I’m proud to be chosen as the Michigan AFL-CIO’s Representative of the Year,” said Rep. Brinks. “Working people in Michigan deserve legislators who will have their backs and work together to build an economy that works for everyone. I will continue to go to work for them every day and I will keep fighting for the things our families need, because that’s how we build a better Michigan for all of us.”

City Council President Brenda Jones was honored for her tireless work on behalf of Detroit’s working families as a leader on the City Council. In her position, Jones has fought to protect our first responders and city employees, and ensure they have the resources they need to serve the people of Detroit effectively and efficiently. Jones is the past president of Communication Workers of America Local 4004.

“As a proud union member, this award means the world to me,” said President Jones. “Now more than ever, we need elected officials who go to work every day and fight for working people, not just the wealthy and well-connected. I’m proud to accept this award, and look forward to continuing our work to build a city that works for everyone.”

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Michigan AFL-CIO to Host Three Gubernatorial Town Halls on Jobs and the Economy

Whitmer, El-Sayed, Thanedar, Cobbs to participate at forums in Warren, Detroit, Flint

LANSING – Today the Michigan AFL-CIO announced it will host a series of three town hall events on jobs and the economy featuring Gretchen Whitmer, Abdul El-Sayed, Shri Thanedar, and Bill Cobbs. The town hall series will begin on January 24, 2018 at UAW Region 1 in Warren, with future events planned in Detroit and Flint.

“Michigan’s working families need a governor who will have our backs,” said Ron Bieber, president of the Michigan AFL-CIO. “Rick Snyder, Bill Schuette, and Brian Calley have spent the past seven years rigging the rules of our economy to favor their wealthy corporate donors while working families struggle to get by. It’s time for a change in Michigan. This November we need to elect a governor who will work to build an economy that works for everyone, not just the wealthy. That’s why we’re hosting these town halls, so working men and women can ask the candidates questions directly about the economic issues that matter most to Michigan’s working families.”

Each town hall will be moderated by Michigan AFL-CIO President Ron Bieber and Communications Director Zack Pohl, and last approximately 90 minutes. Candidates will answer audience questions from union officers and rank-and-file members on a number of key economic issues, including: manufacturing, trade, building vibrant communities, public education, skilled trades job training, and infrastructure.

These events are open to the press, and will be broadcast on Facebook Live by the Great Lakes Beacon. Here are the details for planning purposes:

January Town Hall in Warren: The first town hall will focus on trade and manufacturing issues, and take place at 2:30pm on Wednesday, January 24, 2018 at UAW Region 1, 27800 George Merrelli Dr, Warren, MI. News outlets that wish to cover the event must RSVP. Please plan to arrive on-site at 2:00pm for setup. National AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka is scheduled to attend the town hall, and will participate in the press availability after the event.

February Town Hall in Detroit: The second town hall meeting will focus on building vibrant communities and improving public education. It will take place at 6:30pm on Tuesday, February 27, 2018 at Wayne County Community College District, Downtown Campus, Frank Hayden Community Room, 1001 W. Fort Street, Detroit, MI.

March Town Hall Near Flint: The final town hall event will focus on infrastructure and skilled trades job training. It will take place in the Flint media market at 6:30PM on Wednesday, March 28, 2018. Location TBA.

TO REQUEST MEDIA CREDENTIALS: Please RSVP here to request media credentials for each event. There is limited seating for print and radio reporters.

MEDIA INFORMATION: There will be a mult box available for TV cameras and radio outlets at each town hall. Each event will be immediately followed by a press availability in an adjoining room with the candidates and union officers.

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New Data: Michigan Unions Added 52,000 Members in 2017

Percent of union members in Michigan workforce increased to 15.6 percent

LANSING – The Bureau of Labor Statistics released new data today that show labor unions in Michigan added 52,000 members last year, with membership increasing from 606,000 employees in 2016 to 658,000 in 2017. The percent of wage and salary workers in Michigan who were members of unions increased from 14.4 percent in 2016 to 15.6 percent in 2017.

“This is great news for Michigan’s working families and great news for our economy,” said Ron Bieber, President of the Michigan AFL-CIO. “We need the power in numbers of unions more than ever to protect things our families need, like affordable health care, good schools, and Social Security and Medicare. Now it’s time for our elected officials in Lansing and Washington to get the message, stop attacking working people, and start working together to protect the freedom of working people to negotiate together for a fair return on our work. That’s how we’ll build an economy in Michigan that works for everyone, not just the wealthy.”

Nationally, the number of union members rose by 260,000 in 2017. Other key trends include:

  • Young workers continue to drive union growth. Since 2012, union membership among workers under 35 has continued to rise. Last year, they made up three quarters of new members.
  • Professionals and information industry workers continue to drive growth, reflecting key organizing successes by the Communications Workers of America; the Writers Guild of America, East; the American Federation of Teachers; and the American Federation of Government Employees.
  • Recent victories are among workers across sectors ranging from media employees to charter school teachers and librarian professionals to the 20,000 doctors who joined unions in the last year.

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Schuette’s Use of Tax Dollars for Campaign Staff a Brazen Abuse of Public Trust

LANSING – The Michigan AFL-CIO issued the following statement today from President Ron Bieber on Bill Schuette’s use of public tax dollars to hire campaign staff:

“The fact that Bill Schuette has been stacking his office with political cronies using public funds leading up to his run for governor is as shady as it gets, and it’s high time he was called out for it. During his more than 30 years in office, Schuette has always been more interested in doing what’s best for his career and his corporate donors, but this is a brazen abuse of the public’s trust. Schuette should be using his office to protect working families, not trying to get a leg up on his political opponents. Michigan needs elected officials who will spend every day working to make Michigan a better, safer place to live, work and raise a family. Michigan deserves better than what Bill Schuette is doing.”

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