labor unions

Labor
5:40 pm
Tue July 15, 2014

Non-union builders challenge local wage floors

Many Michigan cities have prevailing wage ordinances.
Credit Daniel Parks / Flickr

An association of non-union construction companies has asked the state Supreme Court to strike down local prevailing wage laws. The Associated Builders and Contractors says a state law preempts the ordinances.

Nearly two dozen Michigan communities have their own prevailing wage ordinances. They’re supposed to ensure that workers on city-financed projects are paid something close to union wages.

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Economy
1:21 pm
Tue April 29, 2014

Workers Memorial Day honors those killed and injured on the job

Protesters at a Workers Memorial Day vigil in Detroit.
Credit Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

April 28 was International Workers Memorial Day, the day that honors those killed or injured on the job in the past year.

Labor advocates in Detroit and cities worldwide held vigils to remember those workers Monday.

The annual event also marks the day that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) was founded in 1970.

That federal agency enforces workplace safety rules in the U.S., and tracks employment-related injuries and fatalities.

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Auto
4:21 pm
Sat March 29, 2014

United Auto Workers membership grows slightly

The Flint sit-down strike against General Motors, Feb. 11, 1937
UAW/Facebook

NEW YORK (AP) - A filing with the U.S. Department of Labor shows the United Auto Workers' membership grew by nearly 9,000 people last year. 

UAW's membership in 2013 was 391,415, compared to 382,513 in 2012. The union has been steadily adding members since 2009, when General Motors and Chrysler filed for bankruptcy.

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Politics & Government
6:23 pm
Thu March 27, 2014

MSU could lose $500k for offering labor courses

makzhou Flickr

Michigan State University could risk losing $500,000 if it does not stop offering courses that allegedly promote unionization.

A state Senate panel approved a measure Thursday banning courses at public universities that promote or discourage organizing efforts. It’s a reaction to MSU’s recent decision to take over some programs from the National Labor College.

Republicans say those courses violate the proposed rule.

“I believe in academic freedom, and you’re going to have difficult subjects that you’re going to cover at any university,” said state Rep. Al Pscholka, R-Stevensville, who chairs the panel that directs higher education funding in the House. 

“But this is a case where I think we’re almost encouraging labor disputes, and I don’t think that’s appropriate.”

The only Democrat that sits on the Senate panel that approved the penalty says it’s unusual for lawmakers to scrutinize university programs this intensely.

“Why just this program?” asked state Sen. Morris Hood III, D-Detroit. “And I would guess to believe that this is a hot topic item and it ruffles a lot of feathers.”

An MSU official says the university’s curriculum is balanced. He says it also offers classes that educate businesses on labor issues.

Pscholka says lawmakers will probably decide whether to move forward with the $500,000 penalty when they return from a three-week break in April.

Stateside
5:23 pm
Thu February 20, 2014

UAW tries to unionize VW workers at Tennessee plant

Pobrecito33 Flickr

It's Thursday – time for our weekly check-in with Detroit News business columnist Daniel Howes. 

 He's picking through the rubble of the UAW's bid to unionize workers at the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tenn. We know that VW workers said "no thanks" to the UAW by a vote of 712-626, but what are the deeper implications of that "no" vote? Daniel Howes joined us today. Listen to the full interview above.

Education
3:52 pm
Thu January 9, 2014

Flint school employees to take 19% compensation cut

Interim school superintendent Larry Watkins, flanked by union leaders, announces the agreement
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Flint school district employees are facing a deep cut in pay and benefits.

Interim school superintendent Larry Watkins announced today that the district and its unions have reached a deal that calls for a 19% cut in compensation.

Specific details about cuts to wages and benefits are still being negotiated between the district and its unions. The cuts will take effect in July. 

Watkins says the cuts are a key component of the district’s deficit reduction plan that’s being submitted to the state next week.

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Business
3:19 pm
Sun December 15, 2013

Blast at US Steel plant near Detroit kills worker

Steelmaking in the basic oxygen shop at the company's Edgar Thomson Plant in Braddock, Pennsylvania.
Credit United States Steel Corp. website

ECORSE, Mich. (AP) -United States Steel Corp. says an explosion at a plant near Detroit has killed one worker, and operations have halted while an investigation begins. 

Company spokeswoman Courtney Boone said Sunday that the accident happened overnight at U.S. Steel Great Lakes Works in Ecorse. The plant is about 10 miles south-southwest of downtown Detroit.

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Business
12:56 pm
Thu December 5, 2013

Michigan fast-food workers demand $15 dollars an hour

A small group pickets in front of a Pizza Hut on Lansing's south side
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Fast-food workers in Flint, Detroit, Pontiac, Lansing and other Michigan cities hit the picket lines today.

They are demanding a big increase in the minimum wage.

In Lansing, a small group of protesters chanted and waved signs outside a Pizza Hut.  

Tina Ervin has worked at the pizza joint for the past year. She says she’s having a hard time supporting herself and her three children on $7.40 an hour. Ervin is hopeful the national campaign to increase the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour will succeed.

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Economy
9:02 pm
Fri November 29, 2013

Protesters target Walmart in suburban Detroit

Protesters, including SEIU President Mary Kay Henry (center), protest at the Sterling Heights Walmart Friday.
Credit Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Protesters called for higher wages and better working conditions for Walmart employees at stores around the country Friday, including one store in suburban Detroit.

Store managers and security met the protesters as they marched to the entrance to the Sterling Heights Walmart.

They were blocked from going in—but did hand over petitions protesting Walmart’s treatment of its workers. Police also arrived, but the protesters left peacefully.

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Economy
6:19 am
Fri November 29, 2013

Labor leaders set to join rally at Michigan Wal-Mart

(file photo)
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

STERLING HEIGHTS, Mich. (AP) - Several labor leaders are expected to rally at a suburban Detroit Wal-Mart store on the day traditionally viewed as the official start to the holiday buying season.

MLive.com reports the Friday event in Sterling Heights is one of hundreds of planned demonstrations and walkouts around the country. The Michigan Black Friday protest is expected to draw leaders from the AFL-CIO and Service Employees International Union.

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Politics & Government
11:37 am
Tue October 22, 2013

City of Lansing finalizes new contract with UAW employees

City Hall, Lansing, Michigan (file photo)
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Some Lansing city workers have a new three year contract.

The Lansing city council gave the final OK to the contract with the city’s UAW employees last night.  

Under the contract, the city’s UAW employees will pay more toward their retirement benefits.   Also, the families of new city employees will not be eligible for health benefits after the employee retires.   The contract also includes a slight pay increase.   

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Education
3:16 pm
Mon October 21, 2013

8 teachers named in complaint filed against the Michigan Education Association

(file photo)
Steve Carmody/MIchigan Radio

Michigan’s largest teachers’ union is being accused of trying to intimidate teachers who wanted to leave the union.

Earlier this month, the Michigan Education Association announced 99% of its members decided to stay in the union, despite Michigan’s new Right-To-Work law.

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Transportation
7:15 pm
Sun October 20, 2013

Detroit cancels bus runs Monday, cites `sick out'

Credit Sarah Hulett

Operators of Detroit's public buses say riders may have to find another way to get around Monday because of what officials say is a threatened "sick-out" protest by unionized drivers.

The union says it isn't behind the job action and can't do anything if drivers call in sick.

A recording on the Detroit Department of Transportation's phone line Sunday evening says that the union has "scheduled a sick out Monday" and "bus service will not be in operation."

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Politics & Government
9:15 pm
Tue September 24, 2013

Unions blast House panel for advancing mass picketing, strike bills

(file photo)
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Union officials say a set of bills in Lansing are an attack on employees’ ability to strike and protest.

The state House Oversight Committee approved the legislation Tuesday. It now goes to the full state House.

House Bill 4643 would increase penalties for protesters who violate current picketing laws. It would also allow business owners to get a court order banning a demonstration without first having to prove picketers were doing something wrong.

Rep. Jim Townsend (D-Royal Oak) is the top Democrat on the panel. He called that language unconstitutional.

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Politics & Government
7:11 pm
Mon September 16, 2013

Crucial mediation process starts in Detroit bankruptcy case

Credit wikimedia commons

Detroit officials and some of the city’s creditors will sit down for their first official mediation session Tuesday.

The mediation was ordered by Judge Steven Rhodes, who’s in charge of Detroit’s Chapter 9 bankruptcy case. Rhodes has appointed chief federal district court judge Gerald Rosen as mediator.

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Auto
2:36 pm
Wed September 11, 2013

Victory for the UAW at a Volkswagen auto plant?

A Volkswagen concept car at the 2013 Detroit Auto Show.
Mark Brush Michigan Radio

In what could be a victory for the Detroit-based United Auto Workers, a union official in Tennessee says a majority of workers at Volkswagen's assembly plant in the state have signed cards favoring the UAW’s representation in creating a German-style works council at the plant.

The official told the Associated Press that the cards are as legally binding as an election by the workers.

More from the AP:

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Stateside
4:17 pm
Tue September 10, 2013

Court declares Indiana's right-to-work law unconstitutional

Protestors outside the Capitol in Indiana when the Legislature there passed a right-to-work law.
screen grab from video The Statehouse File

A judge in Indiana has ruled that that state’s right-to-work law violates a provision in the Indiana constitution -- a provision that bars the delivery of services “without just compensation.”

 The judge found that the law wrongly requires unions to represent workers who do not pay dues. Indiana became the 23rd state – and the first in the Midwest – to ban the collection of mandatory fees for representation from unions. Rick Pluta, Lansing Bureau Chief for the Michigan Public Radio network, joined us today. He's been covering Michigan’s right-to-work law – which, of course, was passed in December. Listen to the audio above.

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Politics & Government
11:52 am
Fri July 5, 2013

Michigan Supreme Court says it won't rule on right-to-work law early

Last December, thousands of union members protested the Right to Work law at the state capitol
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - The Michigan Supreme Court has unanimously decided not to step in early to decide the legality of the state's right-to-work law.

The court on Friday said it wasn't persuaded that ruling now would be an "appropriate exercise" of its discretion.

Republican Gov. Rick Snyder in January asked for an advisory opinion on the law that lets workers stop paying union dues or fees.

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Politics & Government
6:23 pm
Thu June 27, 2013

Orr puts Detroit unions on notice

Detroit emergency manager Kevyn Orr has reminded two of the city’s biggest unions that their contracts are expiring soon.

In letters sent this week, Orr emphasized that he’s not required to conduct collective bargaining sessions.

Under the state’s emergency manager law, he could impose new terms on the unions.

Mark Young is President of the Detroit Police Lieutenants and Sergeants Association, which along with AFSCME Council 25 is one of the affected unions.

He says the officers should get a new collective bargaining agreement.

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Law
12:00 pm
Mon June 24, 2013

Supreme Court to hear case which directly affects Panera Bread workers in Michigan

Last Friday, union picketers walked the line outside a Panera Bread outlet in Kalamazoo
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

The United States Supreme Court has agreed to hear arguments in a dispute between President Obama and congressional Republicans which is directly affecting the lives of Michigan workers.

At issue is the president’s authority to make "recess" appointments.

Recess appointments are made when the president fills a governmental position while the Congress is in recess.

In this case, President Obama filled three vacancies on the National Labor Relations Board without getting his appointees confirmed by Congress.

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