Graduate employees commend administration behavior as state labor board confirms majority support
HARTFORD, Conn. — University of Connecticut (UConn) graduate student employees won union recognition today after the State Board of Labor Relations (SBLR) verified that a super majority of the workers signed cards authorizing the Graduate Employee Union/United Auto Workers (GEU-UAW) to represent them in collective bargaining. Read more >>>
As of APRIL 14, 2014
We are pleased to announce that Piston Automotive has agreed to a card check neutrality.
Therefore, tomorrow's " Action Alert" at the two Piston Automotive sites have been postponed.
Thank you for all of your hard work and solidarity!
Rory L. Gamble
Director UAW Region 1A
Piston Automotive Action Cancelled
Tuesday April 15, 2014 Demonstration Cancelled
Because of your hard work and determination, UAW and Piston Automotive have reached a neutrality agreement.
Tuesday April 15, 2014 Demonstration Cancelled
“Rockin’ at the Region”
UAW Region 1A Retiree Council Sock Hop
Saturday, May 3, 2014
5:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.
UAW Region 1A Stephen P. Yokich Auditorium
9650 S. Telegraph Road,
Dinner & Refreshments
Oldies Music Casual Dress – Poodle Shirts encouraged!
For Tickets: Donation: $25.00 per person / $200 Table
Checks payable to: UAW Region 1A Retirees
Return to Roseanne Scott at Region 1A
Rory L. Gamble, Director UAW Region 1A Read more >>>
2014 Local 600 General Election Rules and Procedures
Rules for General Election for Local 600 Officers (President, 1st Vice President, 2nd Vice President,
Recording Secretary, Financial Secretary, Sergeant-at-Arms, Guide & three (3) Trustees), Unit Officers (President/Chairpersons, Vice President, Recording Secretary, Financial Secretary, Sergeant-at-Arms, Guide & Trustees), Unit Stewards, Bargaining & District Committee positions, Unit Executive Boards & Unit Election Committees for three (3) year term starting July 14, 2014 Local 600 Delegates to the 36th UAW Constitution Convention 4 year term starting June 2014.
Election Date, Time and Place
The Local 600 General Election for Local and Unit Officers, Unit Stewards, Bargaining and District Committee positions, Unit Executive Boards, Unit Election Committees, and Local 600 Delegates to the 36th UAW Constitution Convention shall be conducted by the C.P.A. firm of Clarence H. Johnson P.C., under the direction of the Local 600 Election Committee. The election will be held on Thursday, April 24, and Friday, April 25, 2014 between the hours of 4:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. at the Local 600 Headquarters, 10550 Dix Avenue, Dearborn, MI 48120, or where otherwise posted. Other locations and times will be designated by special bulletins. All members of Local 600 must properly identify themselves in order to vote. The election of the two (2) 36th Constitutional Convention Delegates from the General Council of Local 600 will be held at the April 5, 2014 General Council meeting, starting at 4:00p.m.
A Run-Off Election, if necessary, will be held on Friday, May 2, 2014, at the same places and times.
Eligibility To Run for Union Office
To be eligible to run for Election for Local and Unit Officers, Unit Stewards, Bargaining and District Committee positions, Unit Executive Boards, Unit Election Committees, 36th UAW Constitution Convention Delegate, a member must have been a member in good standing of the International Union for twelve (12) months immediately preceding the nomination unless otherwise qualified under Article 17, Section 4 of the UAW Constitution. A member must also meet all UAW Constitutional and Local 600 Bylaws eligibility requirements. Active members of Local 600 that are on temporary loan to other UAW Locals are eligible to run for office in Local 600 elections as determined by the Local 600 Election Committee. In order to meet the requirements of the member in good standing status, members must have paid their dues in accordance with the provisions of the UAW Constitution.
Notification of Election
Notice of the Local 600 General Election for Officers, Local and Unit, Unit Stewards, Bargaining and District Committee positions, Unit Executive Boards and Unit Election Committees, including dates of acceptances, declinations, drawing of ballot positions, election dates, times and locations, counting of the ballots and runoff election date will be posted at all work locations starting March 7, 2014
Nominations for Union Office
By action of the Local 600 General Council at the March 3, 2014 meeting, all eligible members of UAW Local 600 are declared nominated for all offices.
Individual Member Nominations
In addition to the broad nomination declaration, any member may nominate any other member they desire to stand for election for the Local 600 General Election for Local and Unit Officers, Unit Stewards, Bargaining and District Committee positions, Unit Executive Boards and Unit Election Committees. The nominator will be required to notify the office of Local 600 Election Committee or the Local 600 Recording Secretary of the nomination in writing by 4:00p.m. on Wednesday, March 19, 2014. The nominator will also be required to notify the member that they have nominated, so the nominee will be aware of the nomination and their obligation to accept the nomination within the acceptance deadline as stated in the Election Rules and Procedures. If a member is nominated and the nominator fails to notify the nominee, such failure will not invalidate or excuse the member’s responsibility to accept by the deadline for acceptance as stated in the Election Rules and Procedures. The nominee must be a member in good standing of the Local 600 Unit they have been nominated from.
Effective Tuesday, March 11th, 2014, acceptances for Local and Unit Officers, Unit Stewards, Bargaining and District Committee positions, Unit Executive Boards and Unit Election Committees must be submitted in writing to the Local 600 Election Committee or the Local 600 Recording Secretary, at 10550 Dix Ave., Dearborn MI 48120. The Local 600 Election Committee Office will be open for acceptances on March 11, 12, 13, 14, 18, 19, & 21st, 2014, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and on March 17th & 20th, 2014, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Each candidate must show photo identification when submitting their acceptance form and each acceptance form must be date-time stamped by the Local 600 Election Committee. No acceptances may be submitted by mail. Acceptances can be submitted by Fax (313 842-6149). Fax acceptances must include name, address, and last four of social security number, home phone, work phone, Local 600 Unit membership, copy of picture/signature ID and a signature. Fax acceptances must be received at Local 600 by 4 p.m. on Friday, March 21st, 2014.
The Declination period is March 24th & 25th, 2014, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Declinations must be submitted to the Local 600 Election Committee or the Local 600 Recording Secretary in writing. Each candidate must show photo identification with their original acceptance form when submitting their declination and each declination must be date-time stamped by the Local 600 Election Committee. No declinations will be accepted by U.S. Mail. Declinations can be submitted by Fax (313 842-6149). Fax declinations must include name, address, and last four of social security number, home phone, work phone, Local 600 Unit membership, copy of picture/signature ID and a signature. Fax declinations must be received at Local 600 by 4 p.m. on Tuesday, March 25th, 2014.
Drawing of Ballot Positions
Drawing of ballot positions will be held at Local 600 by the Local 600 Election Committee on Wednesday, March 26, 2014, starting at 10:00a.m. The order of Units drawn is to be determined by lottery at a drawing to be conducted by the Election Committee immediately prior to the drawing of ballots.
Balloting for the above offices in the Local 600 Primary Elections will be from 4:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Thursday, April 24th & Friday, April 25th, 2014 in Local 600 Headquarters, 10550 Dix Avenue, Dearborn, MI 48120, or where otherwise posted. The Run-Off Election, if necessary, will be held Friday, May 2, 2014 at the same places and times.
Eligibility to Vote
Active and retired members of Local 600 are eligible to vote for Local and Unit Officers, Unit Executive Boards,
Unit Election Committees and Local 600 Delegates to the 36th UAW Constitution Convention. Active members are also eligible to vote for District Committeepersons, Bargaining Committeepersons and Unit Stewards; retired members are not eligible to vote for these positions. Active members of Local 600 that are on temporary loan to other UAW Locals are eligible to vote in Local 600 elections as determined by the Local 600 Election Committee. If you have separated from Ford Motor Company and are not receiving retirement benefits you are not eligible to vote unless you qualify under the Pre-Retirement Leave Program. Only Local 600 General Council Delegates are eligible to vote for the two (2) Constitutional Convention Delegates from the Local 600 General Council at the April 7, 2014 Local 600 General Council meeting.
Electioneering and Campaigning
There shall be no electioneering; campaigning or coaching of any type within the balloting area, or within the confines of Local 600 while voting is in process.
Each candidate will be allowed challengers as allocated by the UAW Constitution, providing challengers are members in good standing of Local 600. Rules for challengers will be provided by the Local 600 Election Committee.
Counting of the Ballots
Counting of the ballots for the Local 600 General Election shall be conducted by the CPA firm of Clarence H. Johnson, P. C. under direction of Local 600 Election Committee beginning at 8a.m Saturday, April 26th, 2014. Counting of ballots of the Local 600 Run-Off Election shall be conducted by the CPA firm of Clarence H. Johnson, P.C. under the direction of Local 600 Election Committee beginning at 6:00p.m. on May 2, 2014 at Local 600 Headquarters, 10550 Dix Avenue, Dearborn, MI 48120. The Unit "Order of Count" will be the same order used for the drawing of ballot positions.
Requests for recounts must be made in writing to the Local 600 Election Committee or the Local 600 Recording Secretary within two (2) working days after completion of the vote tabulation. Recounts must meet the requirements of the Local 600 Bylaws and UAW Constitution. Only one recount will be allowed for any one office. Recounts are not allowed for the requirement of majority vote.
Posting of Election Results
Results of the Local 600 General Election shall be posted in the respective Units and reported to the Monday, May 12, 2014 Local 600 General Council Meeting.
Duties and Responsibilities of the Local Officers and Election Committee
The Office of Financial Secretary and the Trustees of Local 600 assume all physical and financial obligations on the final preparations of booths, locations, placing of contract for certified public accounting, printing and all other expenses associated with the 2014 Local 600 Election of Local and Unit Officers, Unit Stewards, Bargaining and District Committee positions, Unit Executive Boards and Unit Election Committees.
Protests and Appeals
Any and all appeals or protests regarding the conduct of the 2014 Local 600 General Elections shall be confined to internal remedies as provided for in the Local 600 Bylaws and the UAW Constitution. No protest shall be considered unless raised with seven (7) days of the closing of the polls or at the next membership meeting, whichever is later. A protest must either be in writing and received by the Local 600 Recording Secretary by the deadline or made at the membership meeting. Protests of the election of delegates to the UAW 36th International Constitutional Convention must be received by the International Secretary-Treasurer not more than (7) days after the Delegates election or not more than ten (10) days prior to the convening of the Constitutional Convention. Protests of Constitutional Convention delegate's election shall be referred to the UAW Credentials Committee who may waive failure to comply with forgoing time limitations where the interests of justice would require.
Allocation of Delegates to the UAW 36th International Constitutional Convention
JOINT COUNCIL 4/28
DEARBORN TRUCK PLANT 4/18
DEARBORN ENGINE PLANT 2/4
DEARBORN STAMPING & TRUCK BODY 2/4
DEARBORN DIVERSIFIED MANUFACTURING PLT. 1/2
FORD M&C 2/4
SEVERSTAL NA/SEVERSTAL STEEL 3/9
PARTS DEPOT 1/2
DEARBORN TOOL & DIE UNIT 2/4
BROWNSTOWN PARTS CENTER 2/4
HYUNDAI MOBIS 1/2
BRIDGEWATER INTERIOR 1/2
INERGY AUTOMOTIVE SYSTEMS LLC 1/2
All matters pertaining to these elections are to be directed to the Local 600 Election Committee or the Local 600 Recording Secretary.
THESE RULES ARE TO BE IMPLEMENTED BY AUTHORITY OF THE GENERAL COUNCIL OF LOCAL 600, UAW MARCH 3, 2014
The 2014 Local 600 General Election Rules are also available for viewing on the
UAW Local 600 Website, www.local600uaw.org.
Local 600 Election Committee
Kenny Grigsby & Jim Tartaglia
(313) 842-5350 - Ext: 259
Fax: (313) 842-6149
Please join us for the Region 1A Expo, in lieu of the Regional Conference in March!
UAW Region 1A Pioneer Scholarship
Rory L. Gamble Regional Director
This Program has been undertaken by the Retired Workers Council because neither the Michigan legislature, nor the Congress have provided the kind of educational opportunities deperately needed by young adults in our complex world. We continue to struggle to remove the economic barriers to full education opportunities while at the same time trying to help a few families provide their children with education beyond high school.
Individuals that are eligible for this scholarship include: Children, Grandchildren or Wards of a member in good standing, working or retired in a local union located in UAW Region 1A. The individual must be graduating in the year that the contest is being held and must be tentatively accepted into an accredited college, community college or career-training institute.
Each Contestant must submit a 500 words or less essay on either:
The Director's Award topic: "What I Think America Should Be" (This essay must show an appreciation of the issues we face in our country and presents the author's views of what needs to be done about them).
Retired Worker's Award: "What the UAW has meant to my Family" (This essay should reflect the student's knowledge of UAW history, what it has won (half the essay) and how these have affected the lives of the contestant's family (must be the other half)
- Director's Award- 2 Scholarships of $1500 each
- Retired Workers Award- 6 Scholarships of $1000 each
The required applications are attached to this article and need to be submitted to UAW Region 1A completed with all of the required documentation and signatures no later than APRIL 30, 2014.
Read more >>>
What the U.S. Steel Industry Thinks of Ford Motor's Aluminum F-150 by Taras Berezowsky
If there’s any reason at all to be anywhere near Detroit this time of year (believe me, I’m from the Metro D and can say such things with more than passing conviction), it’s to attend or be involved in the North American International Auto Show.
If it’s not sports, it’s cars, and at least the city keeps the lights on at the Cobo Center, where the latest designs are unveiled, human models awkwardly complement the exhibitions, and concept cars are the main attraction.
(It’s where I’ve spent many hours of my youth, to be followed by a Ride to Nowhere on the Detroit People Mover and coney dogs at Lafayette.)
However, arguably the biggest story from the Auto Show this year, although quite a concept, was not exactly a concept car – it was Ford’s all-aluminum F-150 truck.
How’d That Happen?
Apparently, after designing and building the new F-150, Ford “secretly” distributed the vehicles to a number of test subjects to see if their light-weighting efforts would hold up.
“The automaker was looking to test how lightweight aluminum alloys would hold up on the job, at a gold mine, an energy utility and a construction firm…What Ford learned from 300,000 total miles convinced the world’s biggest seller of full-size pickups to make wholesale changes to the F-Series,” writes Jerry Hirsch for the LA Times.
The new F-150 weighs 700 pounds less than the previous model, featuring an engine compartment, doors, hood, side panels, truck bed and tailgate all made of aluminum alloys. The way they’re marketing the featured material is by calling it “military-grade aluminum.”
Back to Car Wars: Aluminum vs. Steel
So how do advanced high-strength steel (AHSS) producers – and the steel industry in general – respond to Ford’s move?
Should the move be seen as a huge vote of confidence from a major OEM for a lightweight substitute? Based on that F-150 decision, what does the future look like for steel vs. aluminum from steel industry’s perspective?
I posed those questions to Lawrence Kavanagh, the president of the Steel Market Development Institute (SMDI), a business unit of AISI, after a recent press conference on AHSS in Detroit.
“Ford is a great and valued customer of steel and we have been working with them for 26 years in the Auto Steel Partnership,” Larry wrote me in an email. “We continue to develop new steel lightweighting solutions and showed an example today of steel matching an alternative material part in weight at 34% less cost, and this part is on the road today.”
Indeed, according to the LA Times, Ford also upped the percentage of AHSS in its new F-150, from 23% to 77%. That’s a good move to hedge their bets for a couple of reasons: 1) aluminum is harder to stamp and weld, requiring more heat and electricity; and 2) according to a recent study conducted by MindClick Global, 90% of consumers ‘prefer’ steel-made vehicles over other materials – but of course, the study was commissioned by SMDI, so take that with a grain of salt.
But make no mistake, Ford’s bold move is still a watershed moment for the aluminum industry. “Our goal remains to minimize, if not eliminate, any lightweighting advantage of alternative materials as the business case for such materials then falls apart,” according to Larry. “This is happening and the future therefore looks bright for steel.”
News-Herald Gerrymandering is part of the game, but messing with the Electoral College isn't. by Craig Farrand
FARRAND: Gerrymandering is part of the game, but messing with the Electoral College isn’t
Published: Saturday, January 18, 2014
By Craig Farrand
“We, the people, are the rightful masters of both Congress and the courts — not to overthrow the Constitution, but to overthrow the men who pervert the Constitution.”
— Abraham Lincoln
A follow-up to Sunday’s column:
When I stated the obvious about the state GOP creating the Senate districts that will dilute Downriver representation, I should have added a reason why.
Why did the GOP do this?
Actually, it had little to do with us at all — at least as far as being concerned about the Downriver area’s representation.
What it did have to do with was diluting overall Democratic voting and power in the state.
Which is exactly the same thing Dems have done when they’ve redrawn our House and Senate boundaries.
By linking Downriver cities with Detroit, the GOP effectively marginalized the impact of predominantly Democratic voting in these communities.
For if we collectively elect Democrats in all these seats, they remain a pitiable minority in the Senate — as they already are in the House.
If, however, no gerrymandering had occurred and city boundaries and regional strengths were respected as much as possible, Detroit would have its districts and we would have ours.
But that would mean squeezing Republicans into fewer districts.
And why would they want to do that?
Understand that this is the way the game is played every 10 years: the party in power has the crayons.
However, the state GOP doesn’t seem satisfied with playing within the political rules; it now wants to change the game altogether when it comes to national politics.
In fact, some in the state GOP want to mess with the U.S. Constitution itself.
If you haven’t been paying attention lately, there’s been a growing call among Republicans to change the way our state awards votes in the Electoral College.
If they get their way, instead of a “winner-take-all” outcome, our 16 Electoral votes would be awarded proportionally.
Currently, only two small states allocate votes that way; the other 48 use the winner-take-all approach in order to more accurately reflect the popular vote.
Because if we had no Electoral College, then winner-take-all would be the outcome.
Except the state GOP doesn’t like that idea of one person-one vote.
So instead of allocating Electoral College votes proportionally by popular vote — which most people could live with — they want to do it BY CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT.
And since we have more gerrymandered GOP congressional districts, we would experience a very unsettling result if the GOP follows through.
Consider this: President Obama won Michigan’s popular vote in 2008 and received all 16 of our Electoral votes.
He won again in 2012, and again received all of them.
However: If the GOP plan had been in place for both elections, President Obama would have received only 14 of those 16 votes in 2008.
And in 2012, the president would have received only seven votes — and Mitt Romney, who lost the popular vote, would have taken home nine Electoral votes.
How’s that for creative math?
Of course, election shenanigans are nothing new to the GOP: State Speaker of the House Jase Bolger was a central figure in a “bait and switch” campaign dirty trick in 2012.
Again, for those who don’t remember, Bolger and former state Rep. Roy Schmidt were brought before a grand jury for their roles in recruiting a fake candidate to run as a Democrat against Schmidt in a Grand Rapids race.
Just before the filing deadline, Schmidt switched from Democrat to Republican — ensuring he’d have no competition.
Ultimately, neither man was thought to have broken the law, but I hardly think that give me comfort when it comes to the GOP’s ability to twist reality to fit its ends.
So it certainly is discouraging to hear that Bolger is open to this Electoral College joke; if Michigan’s poster boy for dirty tricks likes it, be afraid. Be very afraid.
In 100 words or less: I’ve been fortunate to have reported on, worked with and gotten to know quite a few school superintendents over the years, and one thing always stands out among the best of them.
To a person, they put the safety and welfare of students above all else.
So it was no surprise to read Staff Writer Jackie Martin’s report on the weather days last week that shuttered our schools beyond the holiday break.
Every superintendent talked about keeping students safe; they’ll deal with any schedule fallout later.
For all the grief our schools take, here’s proof that their priorities are straight.
Craig Farrand is a former managing editor of The News-Herald Newspapers. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
News Herald: What to do about the state surplus? by Craig Farrand
FARRAND: What to do about the state surplus? Politicans have ideas
Monday, January 20, 2014
By Craig Farrand
“He uses statistics as a drunken man uses lampposts: for support, rather than illumination.”
— Andrew Lang
Now it gets interesting.
What to do with a nearly $1 billion (with a “b”) budget surplus this coming fiscal year?
You could just feel the juices flowing in Lansing on Thursday night; nearly every lawmaker was salivating at the chance to issue checks to Michigan voters in time for this fall’s elections.
It was Gov. Snyder’s State of the State address and he eventually got to the spot everyone was waiting for: what to do with the money.
“It’s not about politics,” the governor said, “it’s about being a family.
“I believe, though,” he continued, “when I’ve looked at that list (of options), there’s going to be an opportunity for some tax relief.”
At that point, Lansing rumbled with the applause and foot stomping of kids just given another snow day.
It was like a fix to an addict; the lubricant of politics — money — was going to be available to bribe us.
To convince us that all is well with the world; that our saviors will make us financially whole.
Oh, and don’t forget to vote for these wonderful people who just gave you your money back.
Of course, this typically political move conveniently ignores the fact that these same lawmakers saw no problem taking the money in the first place.
Consider the following:
•The GOP-controlled Legislature felt it was important to tax retirement income on those born after 1946 — the baby boomers.
•These same lawmakers also felt it important to take away the Homestead Property Tax Credit from more than 400,000 Michigan families.
•They cut the Earned Income Tax Credit from 20 percent of the federal EITC to a mere 6 percent — a tremendous hit to working families.
•They eliminated the $600-per-child deduction — another hit.
•They eliminated the deduction for charitable donations.
Then they gave a $2 billion (there’s that “b” word again) tax break to Michigan businesses.
They took money from breathing human beings and gave it to corporate creatures that are more and more being defined as “people,” too.
Using his State of the State as a campaign kickoff event, Snyder spent most of his time talking about all the great things going on, reciting one mind-numbing statistic after another.
In fact, it wasn’t until about 45 minutes into his stump speech that he even began talking about anything remotely important to the future of Michigan.
And while there was some applauding throughout the speech, his single comment about the surplus brought down the house.
Never mind that state Budget Director John Nixon has said that about $650 million of the surplus shouldn’t be used for any kind of permanent tax cut; it’s really only a one-time windfall.
However, that still leaves more than $300 million in political slush funds to bribe us come November.
For keep in mind that the budget we’re talking about begins Oct. 1 of this year — one month before Election Day.
So the saliva was dripping on the floor of the House, where everyone had gathered; I think I even saw one person slip.
I really liked the corn pone tone Snyder inserted several times in his stump speech; those references to “hard-working folk” were touching.
And out of touch: If he really cared about “hard-working folk,” then why did he take our money to begin with?
Why was it so important to slash education and impose tax burdens on “hard-working folk,” while giving away the farm (I can be corny, too) to big business.
I’ve asked the question before, and I’ll ask it again, Gov. Snyder: Where are the jobs?
You said 220,000 private-sector jobs have been created — but our unemployment rate of 8.8 percent is the third-highest in the nation.
Not good enough — certainly not after your $2 billion gift to Corporate America; the $2 billion you took from us “hard-working folk.”
Being a CPA, the governor knows how to work the numbers, and he was adept in explaining how his previous $470-per-pupil cuts to education had been more than offset by the state’s investment in Michigan’s pension fund for school employees.
According to Snyder, that investment is equivalent to a $660-per-student increase in funding.
His reasoning is that by the state investing in the pension fund, it releases local funds for use in classrooms.
Except his approach does nothing to address the overarching failure of our current funding mechanism — the unintended consequences of Proposal A.
In the end, there are two nagging questions still to be answered — one short-term, one more structural.
First, how should this $1 billion surplus be used?
Certainly not as a tax refund: They took our money to make this a better state.
Well, do that!
Improve our roads, our schools; help families and seniors.
Those are sound investments for the $1 billion, don’t you think?
My second question depends on whether greedy lawmakers get their chance to refund the money to us: Why did you take it from us if you’re just going to turn around and give it back?
If you think so much about the “hard-working folk” in this state, why didn’t you leave the money in our wallets to begin with?
Next up for the governor and Legislature is to craft a 2014-15 budget that incorporates the $1 billion surplus.
My advice: Watch and listen.
In 100 words or less: Next month, the world will turn its eye to Sochi, Russia, and the 2014 Winter Olympics — and I’ve been thinking …
No, not about security concerns (and they definitely exist), but about why we hold the Olympics in a single place?
Since the Olympics are supposed to be the personification of global unity through sports — and given our worldwide communications network — why not have them held in multiple locations simultaneously?
We could host ski jumping in Marquette; LA could host beach volleyball; Boston could host rowing; France, cycling; Greece, wrestling; Japan, gymnastics; Switzerland, alpine skiing.
Now that would be great TV.
Craig Farrand is a former managing editor of The News-Herald Newspapers. He can be reached at email@example.com.
FARRAND: What we have to look forward to in 2014 isn’t very encouraging
By Craig Farrand
“Politics is supposed to be the second oldest profession. I have come to realize that it bears a very close resemblance to the first.”
— Ronald Reagan
40th U.S. President
Here’s something to ponder when thinking of the role of our state lawmakers in our lives.
Talking about possible legislative action this year, Kelly Rossman, a PR/marketing exec in Lansing, was quoted as saying: “I expect with the exception of tax relief, everything else will take place in lame duck.”
“With the exception of tax relief,” she said.
Well, that’s a relief: I certainly hoped our lawmakers would do what’s expected in an election year and give us some of our money back.
I mean, what better way to curry votes than with payoffs?
A bribe of sorts, if you will.
Of course, this is an unsurprising, less-than-courageous approach to dealing with what has now grown into a projected $1.3 billion budget surplus over the next three years.
A surprising, courageous approach would be to use the money to fix our state — while changing the future tax code to help the struggling middle class that makes up the bulk of our population.
For example, fix our roads and our schools.
That would be money put to good use.
But that kind of thinking doesn’t get votes come November; payoffs in the form of tax relief does.
Oh, and although that surplus is universally expected, leave it to the speaker of the House’s spokesman to qualify that information: “… if it actually exists,” Ari Adler said.
But Adler then went on to project his boss’ own intentions for 2014: “The speaker wants to look at relief for taxpayers.”
Of course he does — the good of the state be damned; for if the speaker and his GOP brethren really cared about Michigan taxpayers, they would repeal the tax on retirements, increase the minimum wage and tie it to inflation and do the other things that would make life bearable for those who make our state work.
Oh, wait, my bad: Adler didn’t really say his boss, Jase Bolger, was looking for tax relief for individuals.
Silly me: He meant more relief for corporate taxpayers that already have reaped the benefits of the best Legislature money can buy.
And with Gov. Snyder’s trust issues — he was opposed to right-to-work before he was for it; he was for transparency in government before he was against it — it’s hard to figure he’ll do the right thing.
And the right thing is to invest in our state when we can — and we can now.
We need to invest in our schools, making them work for every child; and then we need to make college affordable for every student who wants to attend.
And make career alternatives achievable for those seeking another path.
And we need to fix our deplorable roads by first reducing the weight limits allowed and then using the latest technologies to build roads deserving of a 21st century title.
That goes especially for the bridges that are now close to crumbling under our tires.
Then the Legislature needs to address the issues I mentioned earlier: an increased wage floor, help for retirees who helped build this state and assistance for those who need it.
Yes, there are other needs.
A state like ours, based in manufacturing and trying to catch up to the rest of the world, has a lot of needs.
But $1.3 billion can go a ways in addressing those needs.
Now, I know there will be those of you who will argue it’s your money and you deserve a refund.
But that’s precisely the kind of short-term thinking that got our state in this fix to begin with; the kind of quarterly report mentality that put our Big Three behind Asian long-term planning.
I thought we’d moved past that by now.
Besides, if you think this is your personal money, then you’re not much better than politicians who want to use tax relief as a way to get your vote this fall.
We’re better than they are — so let’s act like it, and demand better from them in turn.
In 100 words or less: What does it take to soften the heart of the hardest soul?
Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” remains the nonpareil tale of the hardest heart being changed by others.
So I’m still trying to understand how GOP lawmakers considering abortion insurance coverage were unmoved by state Sen. Gretchen Whitmer’s sharing of information that she had been raped 20 years ago.
Yes, many are morally opposed to abortion, but that wasn’t the argument; it was about forcing women to get coverage in advance for something they hope they’ll never have to face.
“(This) even being discussed … is repulsive,” Whitmer said.
Craig Farrand is a former managing editor of The News-Herald Newspapers. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
DETROIT – We commend President Obama for his leadership and support for the U.S. auto industry. His actions helped prevent a second Great Depression, saving more than a million American jobs in the process. Domestic automakers have pledged investment in U.S. plants through 2015 that will mean more than 40,000 direct manufacturing jobs in the United States.
The renewed American automotive industry is now America’s No. 1 export sector. The Obama administration, American workers and retirees, and the U.S. automotive industry made tough choices and sacrifices to make this turnaround possible. The automobile sector supports over 3 million good-paying jobs in assembly plants, auto parts manufacturing, repair shops, dealerships and other supporting businesses nationwide. In 2012, U.S. automotive exports totaled $133 billion, an increase of more than $17 billion (14 percent) over 2011. Domestic manufacturing has long been the foundation of a strong middle class, and the automobile industry is the one of the most critical for U.S. manufacturing.
Under the president’s leadership, we are implementing higher fuel efficiency standards from 2017-2025, effectively doubling vehicle fuel efficiency, drastically reducing carbon emissions and creating several hundred thousand jobs. About 50,000 of these jobs will be in auto parts manufacturing and vehicle assembly alone. Read more >>>