UAW Solidarity House | 8000 East Jefferson Avenue
Detroit, Michigan 48214 | p. (313) 926-5000
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UAW President Bob King, Vice President Cindy Estrada, members, retirees and community leaders held a news conference at the union’s Solidarity House headquarters Thursday on the ramifications of Gov. Rick Snyder's budget proposal, particularly his decision to strip collective bargaining rights from nearly 20,000subsidized home-based child care providers who are represented by the UAW and AFSCME.
|UAW Local 7127 President Amy Woodard discusses Gov. Snyder's actions, as Vice
President Cindy Estrada and President Bob King listen. Photos by Gwynne Cobb.
“There is a very clear Republican agenda across America to destroy the middle class,” said King at the March 3 news conference.
“The fact that this announcement comes on the heels of Gov. Snyder's budget proposal calling for enrolled providers' hourly subsidy rate to drop from $1.60 to $1.35 an hour just shows that the governor's priorities are out of whack with the desires of Michigan citizens, who believe in collective bargaining and the right of working people to earn a living wage,” said Estrada, who directs the UAW's Public Sector Department.
“The decision to eliminate the Michigan Home-Based Child Care Council will only hurt Michigan's most vulnerable children. We will continue to work with the providers to ensure that they – and the children they care for – have a voice and are respected and protected, whatever the shortsighted decisions of those in state elected and appointed positions,” Estrada added.
|Amber Vanvleet, child care provider and member of Local 7127,
with some of the children she helps.
Amy Woodard, president of UAW Local 7127, which represents Child Care Providers Together Michigan (CCPTM), said the legislation not only will take away her members’ bargaining rights, but also will hurt the children.
“People are going to be devastated, and it’s not fair for the kids,” she said. “Most people are not doing child care for the money. They’re doing it because they love kids.”
Snyder’s proposed budget calls for $180 million in additional wage and benefit concessions from state employees; elimination of the Earned Income Tax Credit, which will plunge thousands of working families, mostly with children, into poverty; draconian cuts to public education, and a tax on private and public pensions. The governor's budget would take the savings generated from these proposals to hand out $1.7 billion in tax cuts to corporations.
As part of the budget, Snyder also proposed cutting business taxes by $1.8 billion and paying for that tax cut in large part by taxing public and private pensions. Currently, Michigan does not tax public pensions at all, and taxes private pensions only above certain thresholds ($45,120 for individuals and $90,240 for joint filers). Our senior citizens, most of whom live on modest, fixed incomes, face rising prices for food, health care, gas and other expenses. The governor’s attempt to raise their taxes to pay for his tax cuts to big business is just unconscionable.
According to a Detroit Free Press poll, Snyder’s tax proposals are unpopular with voters and voters are particularly unhappy with his proposal to tax pensions. In a poll conducted by the Free Press and WXYZ-TV, 54 percent of Michigan voters are opposed to his plan to tax pensions. In that same pole, Snyder’s approval rating dropped from 59 percent to 44 percent.
The governor and Republican legislature are also seeking to install emergency financial mangers (EFMs), who would have the unilateral authority to modify, reject or terminate collective bargaining agreements and suspend collective bargaining for up to five years. The EFMs, who would be appointed by the state treasurer, would also have broad powers to remove elected officials, dissolve local government councils and school boards, and force consolidation of services in schools and municipalities.
In other news out of Lansing:
The Senate Committee on Reforms, Restructuring and Reinventing approved a resolution March 2 that starts the process to revoke partner benefits for unmarried state workers. The benefit plan was approved by the Michigan Civil Service Commission in January. Republicans have criticized the plan as being too expensive at a time when the state is facing a nearly $2 billion budget deficit. Opponents argued the resolution to eliminate the benefit program was about financial management of the state, not about social issues. The total projected cost of the unmarried partner benefit is approximately .003 percent (three one-thousandths of a percent) of this year’s estimated deficit.
UAW Local 6000 represents about 17,000 state of Michigan workers. The issue has drawn the attention of national LGBT groups. “Providing employment benefits, including health insurance, to the adult partners of state employees is an issue of fundamental fairness,” said Sarah Warbelow, state legislative director for the Human Rights Campaign, a national group advocating for LGBT rights based in Washington. “It is critical for employees to provide for the best possible future for their families, and if Michigan fails to provide equal benefits, the state risks losing a notable segment of its committed, talented workforce.
After another court battle, Judge John Albert says rules put in place this week to restrict public access to the state Capitol building violate the Constitution. He issued an order Thursday evening for the building to be fully reopened to the public by the morning of March 7, with the access policies that were in place on “Jan. 28, 2011.” Buoyed by this victory, the protesters are leaving the Capitol, which will be cleaned for 48 hours.
Yesterday, Republican state senators unanimously passed a resolution ordering missing Democrats to return to the Capitol or face arrest. James Palmer, head of the Wisconsin Professional Police Association says the move may be unconstitutional:
"This is going to backfire miserably. I am confident that the Republicans' actions today will make the Wisconsin law enforcement community even more supportive of Wisconsin's public employees," Palmer said.
About 75 University of Wisconsin Milwaukee students occupied the Peck School of the Arts Theater Building to fight back against Gov. Scott Walker’s attacks on education, public services and under-represented groups.
More reasons to dislike Walker: His proposed budget bans birth control coverage and eliminates access to health services for women.
Rep. Tim Ryan, D-17th district, delivered an impassioned speech on the House floor in support of working people.
While a House vote on Senate Bill 5 is expected soon, the Columbus Dispatch reports that Republican Speaker William Batchelder wants a "thoughtful, deliberative and extensive process,” which could take up to three weeks, according to his spokesman. Meantime, protests around the state continue with specific events planned for coming days.
There was a "Stand Up for Hoosiers” rally at Indiana’s Statehouse Thursday evening, followed by a candlelight vigil outside the Capitol.
The St. Joseph Valley Project, Jobs with Justice, Indiana AFL-CIO, NAACP and the Sierra Club will present a "Right to Work for Less Legislative Update and Roundtable" on March 5.
GOP’s transportation bill moves ahead
While we’ve seen unprecedented attention on workers’ struggles in Wisconsin, Ohio and other state capitols, the GOP is pushing a bill through Congress that would make organizing transportation workers all but impossible.
The bill is sponsored by House Transportation Chair John Mica, R-Fla., who is “a major recipient of campaign contributions from the airline industry (totaling more than $620,000 in his career), according to the Huffington Post.
The controversial provision states if an eligible voter fails to vote for union representation, he or she will be tallied as an active vote against representation. Such a policy, which puts an extra burden on union organizers to round up all voters, rather than a simple majority, existed up until last July, when the federal National Mediation Board, which adjudicates labor-management disputes, ruled that absent votes ought not be counted against unionization.
Labor officials hailed that decision as one of their signature victories last year, and the proposal to strip it away has sparked an equally emotional reaction.
Just to highlight how undemocratic this is, consider that 41.6 percent of eligible voters cast a ballot in last November's midterms, and imagine a law that tallied all of those who didn't go to the polls as votes for the GOP.