Category: Breaking News Written by The Huffington Post
The Michigan House approved a second right-to-work bill on Tuesday that would cover all private employees, by a vote of 58-52.
Republicans have asked for a reconsideration of the votes, which means final passage on the private sector bill, SB 116, before it reaches the Michigan Governor's desk, will most likely be delayed till tomorrow.
"It's a sad day for the middle class and the state of democracy in Michigan when legislation that harms workers is successfully rushed through the process without any hearings or debate," said House Democratic Leader Richard E. Hammel (Mt. Morris Twp.) in a statement emailed to The Huffington Post.
"Despite repeated calls for hearings on this legislation, Republicans insisted on moving it through the Legislature as fast as they could. We are appalled by the continued assault on the standard of living of Michigan's working men and women."
Protesters and union supporters have gathered in the state capitol of Lansing to oppose the bills, shouting "shame on you" in the galleries and leading demonstrations on the grounds.
The House first passed a measure pertaining with public-sector employees by a vote of 58-51. Democrats tried to have the vote reconsidered but failed.
Michigan's Republicans hold majorities in both legislative houses – 64-46 in the House and 26-12 in the Senate.
The right-to-work legislation will deal a crippling blow to unions in Michigan, opponents say. The bills will allow employees to choose whether they pay union dues at businesses that are unionized. While supporters say that the bill will make Michigan more competitive to businesses looking to locate in the state, detractors suggest that unions will become defunded and suggest that employees' ability to negotiate with their employers will be lessened by the new legislation.
If the bills are signed into law, Michigan will be the 24th state in America to become a right-to-work state. Right now, the state says that 17.5% percent of the state's workers are unionized. Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder said he will sign both bills into law as early as Wednesday.
Snyder has reversed his earlier stance of discouraging Republicans from pushing for right-to-work laws and championed the bills during a press conference last week before Michigan lawmakers rammed the bills through the legislature for early votes on Thursday evening.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 12 December 2012 09:37
Category: News Briefs Written by WWJ
LANSING (WWJ) - Michigan state troopers, some in riot gear, worked to maintain order Tuesday as thousands of pro-and anti-right-to-work protesters clashed at the Capitol.
State police talking to WWJ Newsradio 950 said several fights broke out. Two people were arrested when they tried to get into the George Romney Building, a state office building that was closed.
Reporting from the scene, WWJ’s Jeff Glibert said a neon-vested volunteer working to try to control the crowd got pepper-sprayed.
In a separate incident, a demonstrator was trampled by a police horse.
At least one person was taken from the Capitol lawn by ambulance.
What’s left of the Americans for Prosperity tent is seen on the Capitol lawn. (credit: WWJ/Mike Campbell)
WWJ’s Ron Dewey reported a tent set up by the pro-right-to-work group Americans for Prosperity was torn down and several people were trapped underneath.
“There were able to get out, from what I understand. But state police say the sheriff’s department on horseback came in to restore order, which seems to have been the case so far,” Dewey said.
No one was seriously hurt in that incident but Americans for Prosperity members were led off the grounds for their safety.
The group’s Scott Hagerstrom said they lost a lot of property.
“We’ll have to access the damage,” said Hagerstrom. “I don’t know where my computer is and everything that’s on there, but the most important thing is that I believe everyone is safe. Right now, I understand, one person … their teeth got loosened.”
These were some of the first signs of unrest at the Capitol as a massive day-long demonstration continued; this as the GOP-controlled House worked to approve the right-to-work measure.
In general, right-to-work laws prohibit requiring unions from collecting fees from non-union employees, which opponents say drains unions of money and weakens their ability to bargain for good wages and benefits. Supporters insist it would boost the economy and job creation.
Gov. Rick Snyder has pledged to sign the legislation, making Michigan the 24th right-to-work state.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 11 December 2012 14:51
Category: Breaking News Written by CNNMoney
NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Protesters descended on Michigan's Statehouse on Tuesday as legislators began to vote on a controversial right-to-work measure. The legislation, which would allow workers at union-represented employers to forgo paying dues, is expected to pass since Republicans dominate both chambers. The state's House is voting Tuesday on two bills, each covering public and private employees, that the Senate already approved last week.
Gov. Rick Snyder, a Republican, has said he will sign it. Thousands of people, many of them union workers, gathered outside the statehouse, chanting and holding signs as snow fell.
There are 23 states which have right-to-work laws, mostly in the South and western plains states, where union membership is relatively weak. Nationwide, union membership stands at 11.8%. Michigan, the birthplace of the United Auto Workers where 17.5% of employees are represented by unions, would be by far the most heavily unionized state to pass such legislation. It would join neighboring Indiana in converting to right-to-work this year.
"It would devastate the workers," UAW President Bob King told CNN Tuesday morning. "We're worried about all workers in the state of Michigan." Advocates of the bill say it will help attract businesses to the state, but critics say that it would weaken labor's bargaining strength by cutting union financial resources without doing anything to bring in more jobs.
Employees in right-to-work states have lower wages, on average, than their counterparts elsewhere, according to Richard Hurd, professor of labor studies at the ILR School at Cornell University. That's because the unions are weaker in those states and aren't as effective in bargaining for higher wages.
The average full-time, full-year worker in a right-to-work state makes about $1,500 less annually, according to the Economic Policy Institute, a left-leaning organization. The rate of workers covered by employer-sponsored health insurance is 2.6 percentage points lower, while pension coverage is 4.8 percentage points lower.
The measure's passage would symbolize the declining fortunes of the nation's once powerful union movement. Only four states have passed right-to-work laws since the 1960s. "If right-to-work passes in Michigan, it demonstrates the weakness of the labor movement," Hurd said. "If it can happen in Michigan, there's a feeling it can happen anywhere."
CNNMoney's Chris Isidore and CNN's Poppy Harlow and Alison Kosik contributed to this report. The-CNN-Wire/Atlanta/+1-404-827-WIRE(9473)
™ & © 2012 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 11 December 2012 12:13
Category: Breaking News Written by Minehaha Forman
DETROIT – President Barack Obama and Detroit Mayor Dave Bing met one-on-one Monday during the President’s visit to Detroit.
Bing and Obama discussed a number of pressing matters in the city including the City of Detroit’s current financial crisis and the Mayor’s reform agenda according to Bing’s press office.
Obama spoke at Detroit Diesel’s Redford engine plant Tuesday as part of a campaign to get Americans on board with his plan to avoid the fiscal cliff.
"I did compliment the President on what some of his departments are already doing, in particular Transportation, HUD, Labor, Education and the Strong Cities, Strong Communities program,” Bing said of the meeting. “We did talk about the potential of getting personnel to help us with the execution of our restructuring plan.”
Bing said the highlights of President Obama’s speech at the Detroit Diesel facility included his assertion that everyone has to come to the table to work together and his stance on the importance of manufacturing in this country.
“I think the risk and the investment that the President made in the auto industry helped turn the industry around, no doubt,” Bing said.
Bing also said he agreed with the President who made it clear he was opposed to the right-to-work legislation.
"These so-called right-to-work laws, they don't have anything to do with economics, they have everything to do with politics," Obama told autoworkers in his Detroit speech. "What they're really talking about is giving you the right to work for less money."
The right-to-work debate is hotly contested in Michigan as state legislature is poised to pass the bill this week and send it to the governor’s desk. Governor Rick Snyder said last week that if right to-work legislation reaches his disk he would sign it into law.
In a recent interview on CNN, Bing claimed to have the hardest job in America as Mayor of Detroit, second only to Obama’s.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 11 December 2012 11:51
Category: Breaking News Written by Carrie Healey, The Grio
African-American tap dancing legend Jeni LeGon died Friday at the age of 96 at her home in Vancouver.
From the south side of Chicago, Jeni LeGon was one of the first African-American women in tap dance to develop a career as a soloist.
According to the American Tap Dance Foundation, at the age of 13, she landed her first job in musical theater, and from there danced in different shows and clubs around the world.
LeGon was known for her unique tap style and wearing pants when other female dancers at the time wore skirts.
As an African-American woman in a white dominated Hollywood, LeGon scored roles in several films, including the 1935 musical Hooray for Love.
LeGon will be remembered as one of the greatest African-American dancers ever. Performing lead roles in black films, dancing in a chorus line backed by Count Basie Orchestra, and teaching dance students, LeGon will forever be a pioneer for black performers.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 11 December 2012 10:03
Category: News Briefs Written by thehuffingtonpost
The Chrysler Jefferson North assembly plant is shown in Detroit, Thursday, Sept. 20, 2012. Chrysler has reinstated more than a dozen Jefferson North assembly line workers who were filmed drinking and smoking pot during their breaks.
Chrysler has reinstated more than a dozen Jefferson North assembly line workers who were filmed drinking and smoking pot during their breaks.
The Big Three automaker suspended two workers without pay for a month and outright fired 13 other employees in September 2010, after television station Fox 2 filmed the men drinking alcohol and smoking marijuana during their shift breaks over a period of several days.
At the time the video was aired, Scott Garberding, Chrysler's senior vice president of manufacturing, told the TV station, "I'm very, very disturbed about what I just saw in the video and I want to make it clear that we at Chrysler take it very seriously."
But the United Auto Workers (UAW), the union representing the assembly line employees, filed grievances on behalf of the workers that were fired.
And a third-party arbitrator sided with the union, agreeing that Chrysler had to give the workers back their jobs. They started back at the factory this week.
"Chrysler Group LLC acknowledges the reinstatement of a number of employees from the Jefferson North assembly plant who were discharged from the company in September 2010 after appearing in a local TV station's story about their off-duty conduct," the automaker said in a statement reported by Fox 2.
"While the company does not agree with the ultimate decision of the arbitrator, we respect the grievance procedure process as outlined in the collective bargaining agreement and our relationship with the UAW. Unfortunately, the company was put in a very difficult position because of the way the story was investigated and ultimately revealed to the public. These employees from Jefferson North have been off work for more than two years. The time has come to put this situation behind us and resume our focus on building quality products that will firmly establish Chrysler Group's position in the marketplace."
Last Updated on Tuesday, 11 December 2012 14:39
Category: News Briefs Written by Jerry Hirsch, LATimes
Get ready for Honda to offer a small SUV, pegged below the size and price of the CR-V for the U.S. market, sometime in the next several years.
Honda Motor Co. put out a brief statement Tuesday saying that an all-new Honda small SUV concept vehicle will make its world debut at the 2013 North American International Auto Show in Detroit on Jan. 14.
The statement said the vehicle is "a global concept model combining a sporty and dynamic SUV profile with a spacious, functional interior" but released no other details or information about the small SUV except for a shaded sketch.
However it is based on the same platform Honda uses for its Fit subcompact and will be built at a factory under construction in Mexico along with the Fit.
Since Honda will first show the car in Detroit as an "urban SUV concept," it's a good bet that the U.S. will be one of its target markets.
Honda is trying to increase its sales and market share in the U.S.
It is facing tough competition –- especially in the passenger car and crossover market from the Hyundai and Kia brands as well as the domestic nameplates, which have pushed hard into the passenger car business. Moreover, Honda's global manufacturing operations were disrupted by the Japanese earthquake last year, limiting sales in the U.S.
Takanobu Ito, Honda's chief executive, has said he wants to grow North American sales about 20% to 2 million vehicles by 2016. Honda is on track to sell about 1.4 million in the U.S. this year, which would be about a 20% gain from 2011.
Honda will need another high sales volume vehicle that can approach the rates of its popular Civic, Accord and CR-V models to reach Ito's target.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 11 December 2012 14:40
Category: Breaking News Written by WWJ
DETROIT (WWJ) -Detroit’s Financial Advisory Board says it seriously doubts that the city will be able to get through its cash crisis.
Tuesday, the board endorsed state Treasurer Andy Dillon’s move to begin a 30-day review of the need for an emergency financial manager.
Madame chairwoman Sandra Pierce said she’s worried that the numbers are not adding up: “The numbers that you forecasted and the numbers that have actually come are different,” said Pierce. “And they are worse, and city council has not approved the milestones and so cash has not come from the state.”
“The last numbers I saw was a negative $120 million cash flow for this year and today they are referring to $110 (million) so I don’t know what the difference of the $10 (million) is,” said Dillon.
Dillon said if they drew everything out of escrow it looks like they would be about $2 million off on June 30, and “that’s just not acceptable.”
“The President is supportive of Detroit retaining its independence,” said Bing during a late afternoon press conference.
Although the city desperately needs $80 million from the state and while Mayor Bing said they are hitting the milestones – Dillon said those funds would not come all at once.
Not the answer that Bing wanted to hear from the Democrat Andy Dillon. “Well, I don’t think anyone wants to be half pregnant. And … $30 million … when we need $80 (million) will not solve the problem,” said Bing.
Dillon said he doesn’t want to release all $80 million in case there is a take-over of the city. Dillon wants to make sure there is a reserve in order to keep essential services available to the city.
“To me it’s a reserve, I mean, we’ll evaluate as we go in terms of crisis – I mean – if I have to go to the governor and say I think we have to take-over I want a reserve so that we make certain we keep police on the streets,” he said.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 11 December 2012 09:09
Category: News Briefs Written by WWJ
(credit: WWJ/Marisa Fusinski)
LANSING (WWJ) - Thousands of people will be at the state capital on Tuesday morning for what could be a historic day.
The Republican-controlled legislature is poised to take final action on right-to-work laws in Michigan, a state that was a pillar of the American labor movement and where the United Auto Workers union was founded in 1935.
The bills mean Michigan workers would no longer have to pay union fees for negotiating contracts and other services. Michigan House Democrat Leader Richard Hammel said he’s unhappy with the legislation.
“If I’m being provided a service by a particular organization, I don’t care if that’s a club due or if it’s something else, than I should be paying for that service that’s being provided to me,” said Hammel.
Sean McCann, a Democratic State Representative, said he’s upset there was no real debate over the bills.
“This is something that’s being crammed through lame duck because this is probably their only opportunity to really make this happen,” said McCann.
Republican Governor Rick Snyder pledged to sign the bill into law when it is presented to him.
“I’m not happy about being in this situation, but given it’s here, I’m going to do what I believe is best for the citizens of Michigan, my customers,” said Snyder.
Thousands of union members and their supporters plan to rally against the legislation.
“When you bring right-to-work issues to Michigan, the home of labor unions, I think that you’re itching to pick a fight,” said McCann.
The size of the crowd of protestors has created some tension for Stephen Kofski, the man who manages that building – which has a capacity of about 2,000.
“If the fire marshal says ‘Hey, guess what? You guys are over capacity,’ then what we’re going to have to do is maybe say ‘Alright, we’re going to have to hold off until some people exit,’ and then we’re going to have to maybe do a count, like 20 people left, let 20 people in,” he said.
Kofski said in a perfect world, the lawmakers would come into town, vote and then leave quickly.
“The longer they stay here, it just increases the matter tenfold. And again, everybody has a right to come in here and voice their opinion and we’ll deal with it the best way we can and let them voice their opinion,” Kofski said.
Michigan State Police Inspector Gene Adamczyki said security at the capital will definitely be heightened, to the tune of about 150 extra officers.
“People have a constitutional right to demonstrate. However, all we as is that they do it in an orderly, lawful and civil manner,” said Adamczyki.”
Last Updated on Tuesday, 11 December 2012 13:56
Category: Breaking News Written by The Huffington Post
WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama weighed in on the contentious labor battle playing out in Michigan, condemning the Republican push to make Michigan a so-called "right-to-work" state as nothing more than a partisan maneuver that will hurt the working class.
"We should do everything we can to keep creating good middle-class jobs that help folks rebuild security for their families," Obama said Monday in a speech at the Daimler Detroit Diesel plant.
"And by the way, what we shouldn't do -- I've just got to say this -- what we shouldn't be doing is trying to take away your rights to bargain for better wages and working conditions," he added to loud applause from the audience. "We shouldn't be doing that. The so-called 'right-to-work' laws -- they don't have to do with economics, they have everything to do with politics. What they're really talking about is giving you the right to work for less money."
Michigan is set to become the 24th right-to-work state, with Gov. Rick Snyder (R) poised to sign the controversial bill after it was fast-tracked by the GOP-controlled legislature. Thousands of union supporters protested at the state capitol in Lansing last week, and more protests are planned for Tuesday.
Michigan's rules require that the House and Senate wait five days before voting on each other's bills. The legislature is set to approve final passage of the right-to-work legislation on Tuesday, and Snyder could sign it the same day.
Snyder met with Democratic members of Michigan's congressional delegation on Monday morning. They urged him to veto the bill or, at the very least, request that the state legislature delay its Tuesday vote. According to Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), who attended the meeting, the governor said he would "seriously" consider their request.
The bill would ban automatic payroll deductions of union dues. Supporters of right-to-work laws say workers who don't want to belong to a union shouldn't be forced to pay dues. Opponents, however, point out that these non-payers will reap the benefits of a unionized workplace without paying their fair share.
While labor officials acknowledge there is little they can do to stop the Michigan bill from becoming law at this point, unions are essentially declaring an all-out war on politicians who back right to work -- including raising the possibility of recalling them from office, as was attempted in Wisconsin.
Democrats won't be able to overturn right to work at the voting booth, because Republicans turned it into a spending bill, which can't be put forward as a public referendum. But Rep. Gary Peters (D-Mich.), who was also in the meeting with Snyder, said the governor and the legislature could get around that restriction.
"I asked the governor, if he's not willing to veto it or not willing to delay, certainly he has two options," said Peters. "One, there will be an amendment that will be proposed in the state legislature to put this to a vote of the people. Hopefully he will support it. If he can't support that amendment, he should, at a minimum, strike the line -- he has line-item veto power as state governor -- he should strike the line for the appropriation to allow the people of the state of Michigan to vote."
The White House said in a statement last week that Obama opposed right-to-work laws, but Monday marked the first time the president has personally spoken out about the labor fight in Michigan.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 11 December 2012 09:04
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