workers

Very few people have experienced life on Antarctica, but a Michigan-born film director spent a year on the continent. On today's show: a conversation about his new film No Horizon Anymore: A Yearlong Journey to the South Pole.

And, we spoke to an astronomy professor from the University of Michigan about the history of UFOs in Michigan.

Also, is there a shortage of skilled workers in Michigan? Rick Haglund joined us to explain why there is no clear answer. 

First on the show, the primary election of 2013 is history. Now the focus shifts to the November general election.

For the two candidates who want to become Detroit's next mayor, it's time to take stock of the harsh realities facing the city and craft a clear campaign message that addresses those stark truths.

Stephen Henderson has been issuing that challenge from the pages of the Detroit Free Press throughout the campaign, and now that the two challengers have emerged from the primary, we wanted to get his thoughts.

Stephen Henderson, the Editorial Page Editor of the Detroit Free Press, joined us today.

earl53 / Morguefile

Is there a shortage of skilled workers in Michigan?

Now that the recession is in our rearview mirror, are there enough tool-and-dye makers and machine operators and welders and the like to meet employer demands?

The answer is not a clear "yes" or "no" as Rick Haglund discovered in his piece for MLive.

It’s headlined “Why Employers Have Difficulty Filling Skilled Trades Jobs.”

Rick Haglund joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

The Michigan legislature has passed a bill that would make major changes to the state’s workers' compensation law.

Under the new bill, insurance companies can reduce the amount of compensation to an injured worker based on how much that worker could make at another job while injured. That’s regardless of whether that job is even available.

It’s now headed to Governor Rick Snyder for his signature.

D.Clow / flickr

Sweeping proposed changes to Michigan's Workers' Compensation law are working their way through the state government. Here's a recap on some basics about the system.

The basics

Most employers in the state must participate in the workers' compensation system.

Spacing Magazine / Flickr

General Motors says most of its 26,000 white-collar workers will get bonus checks. The automaker says the bonuses will be between 4 and 16 percent of their base salaries. The Associated Press reports:

The company says in a statement Thursday that bonuses will be based on the performance of the worker and the company. GM made $4.2 billion in the first three quarters of last year and is expected to post a fourth-quarter profit shortly. The bonuses come just 19 months after GM needed a $49.5 billion government bailout to make it through bankruptcy protection.

The company says that more than 96 percent of the salaried workers will get bonuses of 4 to 16 percent of their base pay. Fewer than 1 percent will get 50 percent or more.

Striking workers' sign
Steve Rhodes/Flickr

Michigan Radio has been covering stories from across the state regarding labor and contract disputes. From the strike of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra to the dispute between the City of Flint and its Firefighters Union, it seems that workers and management are having a difficult time finding common ground these days.

So, we wondered, do strikes increase during a down economy?  We assumed they did.  Well, as they say, that's we get for assuming.  As it turns out, the struggling economy may have actually reduced the number of labor disputes resulting in strikes. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were fewer work stoppages affecting 1,000 or more workers in 2009 than in any other year since 1947, when the collection of this data began.

Willow Run Factory and B-24 bombers
U.S. Army Signal Corps

It was ground zero for the "arsenal of democracy" in the 1940s. Henry Ford built the giant Willow Run factory to manufacture B-24 bombers in World War II. Later GM took over the building making everything from Chevy trucks, the Caprice, the Nova, Corvairs, and transmissions.

Today, the materials inside the plant are being auctioned off as part of the "Old GM's" bankruptcy reorganization (old GM is now known as the Motors Liquidation Company).