labor

Auto
9:47 am
Thu January 16, 2014

Meet the workers who power Detroit's Auto Show

A Fiat product specialist at the auto show
Credit Mercedes Mejia / Michigan Radio

At Detroit’s North American International Auto Show, the focus is naturally on the cars.

But behind the scenes, more than 2,000 people labor to make sure visitors are impressed by what they see.

Detroit has hosted an auto show for over a century now. And in a place known as the Motor City, it’s always been a pretty big deal.

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Business
5:10 pm
Thu October 10, 2013

Some Michigan farmers leaving crops to rot because of labor shortage

Golden Delicious apples lie on the ground beneath a tree in Sparta due to lack of skilled harvesters.
Michigan United

A couple dozen Michigan farmers gathered in Grand Rapids Thursday to again draw attention to a big labor shortage.

They’re calling on Congress to pass legislation that would allow guest workers to get jobs in the U-S without becoming citizens.

Don Coe is a managing partner of Black Star Farms. He grows grapes and cherries in Suttons Bay in Northwest Michigan.

“I think we could get (a guest worker program)  through except that there are ideologues with a post-9-11 mentality whose simple answer is always 'build a fence, throw them out,'” Coe said.

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Stateside
5:31 pm
Thu August 8, 2013

Are there enough skilled workers in Michigan?

Author Joel Kotkin says Michigan needs more mid-level workers, like welders, plumbers, machinists and office workers.
earl53 Morguefile

An interview with Rick Haglund.

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.

Politics & Government
10:12 am
Fri December 7, 2012

Labor leaders tried to head off right-to-work

UAW President Bob King tried to head off right-to-work legislation, but talks broke down.
Lester Graham Michigan Radio

Gov. Rick Snyder's 'not on my agenda' talk seemed to keep right-to-work legislation at bay, continually saying the issue was too divisive.

He had a change of heart yesterday.

Now, Michigan is on the fast-track to becoming the 24th state to adopt a right-to-work law.

Right-to-work laws ban requirements to pay dues or fees to a union as a condition of employment. Without compulsory payments in a closed union shop, unions stand to lose a lot of muscle.

The Detroit Free Press reports that the UAW's Bob King and other labor leaders tried to stop the legislation prior to yesterday's vote:

UAW President Bob King spent a lot of time in Lansing in recent days trying to prevent Gov. Rick Snyder and the Republican leadership from introducing right-to-work legislation but came up short.

“Labor collectively felt like we put some really important proposals on the table about how we could work together … and about how can we de-escalate partisanship,” King told the Free Press today. “We are really disappointed that the governor and the Republican leadership chose the path that they did.”

In a separate piece, the Free Press reports that Snyder said the labor leaders didn't do enough, but he didn't provide specifics.

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Politics & Government
7:50 pm
Thu December 6, 2012

Michigan likely to go "right-to-work;" protestors hit Capitol (PHOTOS, AUDIO, VIDEO)

Michigan Gov. Snyder (center) flanked by supporters of right-to-work legislation in Michigan.
screenshot LiveStream

We're updating this post on the legislature's effort to pass a 'right-to-work' law in Michigan.

A right-to-work law would outlaw requirements that workers pay union dues or fees as a condition of employment. Unions say these laws weaken their ability to bargain collectively with employers. Supporters of the law say it gives workers a choice.

Update 7:50 p.m.

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Breaking
12:16 pm
Thu December 6, 2012

'Right-to-work' legislation to be unveiled in Michigan today

Protesters in the Michigan Capitol last night demonstrating against the push for right-to-work legislation.
Rick Pluta MPRN

Update 12:16 p.m.

During a press conference this morning, Michigan Gov. Snyder dramatically changed course on 'right-to-work' legislation in Michigan.

He has continually said that the legislation was 'not on his agenda' this year because it was too divisive.

But today, he said right-to-work is on his agenda and he will sign a bill if it lands on his desk.

"It is a divisive issue. It's on the table, whether I want it to be there or not," Snyder said during the this morning's press conference.

The 'right-to-work' bills are expected to be introduced in the Legislature today. MIRS reports the bills will cover public sector workers and private sector workers.

Police and fire workers will be excluded.

The bills are expected to move quickly.

They are also expected to have appropriations attached to them, making voter repeal impossible.

10:42 a.m.

The Michigan Information Research Service reports the Michigan House and Senate plan to use 'vehicle bills' to move their 'right-to-work' legislation faster.

Vehicle bills are bills that have already been introduced into a legislative body into which language can be added. It allows legislators to move the legislation through the chambers faster than introducing a new bill.

MIRS reports their sources tell them the 'right-to-work' legislation Republican leaders plan to introduce today will cover both private and public workers.

We'll find out soon enough.

10:12 a.m.

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder and Republican leaders in the state Legislature are expected to unveil their plans for so-called 'right-to-work' legislation at an 11 a.m. news conference this morning.

You can watch the 'media roundtable' live at 11:00 a.m. online.

From the Detroit Free Press:

Snyder is to be joined at the news conference, described as a “media roundtable,” by Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville and House Speaker Jase Bolger.

Details were not disclosed, but right-to-work legislation is expected to begin moving in the Legislature today. Rather than introducing a new bill, which under the rules of the Legislature would take longer to pass, lawmakers are expected to introduce a substitute for a House bill that is already in the legislative pipeline.

Right-to-work laws are often called "right-to-work-for less" laws by those who oppose the measures.

The laws ban contracts that compel employees to join a union, or that compel them to pay fees to that union. Without these payments, unions lose their power.

Union supporters say workers not paying into the pool still reap the benefits of collectively bargained contracts, such as better pay, benefits, or working conditions.

Politics & Government
10:57 am
Thu December 6, 2012

LIVE: 'Right-to-work' legislation unveiled

The news conference has ended.

Here's the news conference with Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder and Republican legislative leaders. They're unveiling their plans for 'right-to-work' legislation:

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Politics & Government
11:40 am
Wed August 22, 2012

Michigan high court orders lower court to rule on "Protect Our Jobs" ballot proposal

Members of the UAW union will attend a four-day legislative conference in Washington, D.C. beginning today
UAW

The Michigan Supreme Court ordered the Court of Appeals to issue a ruling by Monday on whether the "Protect Our Jobs" constitutional amendment proposal should go on the November ballot.

The referendum seeks to to protect collective bargaining rights in Michigan.

From The Detroit News

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Law
4:49 pm
Fri August 17, 2012

Michigan Court of Appeals to hear worker rights proposal

Michigan Hall of Justice where arguments will be heard in the Court of Appeals next week.
User Xnatedawgx Wikimedia Commons

More ballot measure news today as Michigan voters face a November election that will likely include  about a half a dozen ballot measures.

The Michigan Court of Appeals will hear arguments next week from supporters and opponents of a ballot measure that seeks to add collective bargaining rights for workers into the state constitution.

A group called Protect Our Jobs collected nearly 700,000 signatures to get the measure on the ballot. The group Citizens Protecting Michigan's Constitution challenged the petition, saying the ballot proposal was unconstitutionally broad.

In an order released today, the court says oral arguments in the case will be heard Wednesday in Lansing.

An appeal to the court was made after the Board of State Canvassers deadlocked 2-2 this week on the Protect Our Jobs ballot proposal.

Politics
4:40 pm
Wed January 18, 2012

UM grad student claims lost job over union effort

Members of the Graduate Employees Organization picketing on the North Campus of the University of Michigan in 2008. Many University administrators and deans maintain these research assistants are not "employees."
UM GEO

Update 4:26 p.m.

Jennifer Dibbern, the former University of Michigan graduate student, spoke at a press conference this afternoon on U of M's north campus.

Dibbern worked as a graduate student research assistant while pursuing her doctoral degree in Materials Science and Engineering at the U of M.  She was also involved in the effort to form a union for research assistants.

Dibbern claims her advisor pulled Dibbern’s funding and kicked her out of the program because of her union activities:

"I think my story is one clear reason why we as research assistants need a union," says Dibbern. "I would really hope that me being able to come forward and talk with you all prevents this from happening to any other person, any other research assistant at this university."

There is an ongoing dispute over whether graduate student research assistants (GSRAs) have the right to organize. The U of M Board of Regents last May recognized RAs as public employees who have the right to vote to decide for themselves whether they want to form a union. That's in contrast to a 1981 decision by the Michigan Employment Relations Commission (MERC). GEO, the graduate employees union, is seeking to get that MERC ruling overturned. Trial hearing dates are set for Feb. 1-3, 2012.

Dibbern says she came to U of M because of its reputation as an excellent research institution, and she had hopes she'd get her doctorate degree. But she says because of the decision of her advisor, professor Rachel Goldman, she's no longer able to do that.

"My career path in the field that I’ve chosen and all the work that I’ve put into it has been lost; my career’s been ruined."

Rick Fitzgerald, a public relations official with the University of Michigan, was also at the press conference. He says Dibbern's case is "an academic matter" and by law can’t be discussed publicly. He says Dibbern’s claim that she was terminated is not true.

Dibbern claims she received positive feedback on her academic performance up until a few weeks before she was terminated.

Professor Rachel Goldman could not be reached for comment.

9:56 a.m.

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) - A University of Michigan graduate student claims she lost her job after supporting efforts to unionize graduate student research assistants.

The Detroit Free Press reports Wednesday that Jennifer Dibbern lost her research funding and was kicked out of her academic program. She tells the newspaper she wants to highlight a need to protect research assistants.

School spokesman Rick Fitzgerald said in a statement that "we believe certain of the union's factual claims are unfounded." He said the issue is an academic matter that the school is prohibited from discussing publicly.

Dibbern's work was in the College of Engineering.

The Michigan Employment Relations Commission in August affirmed a 1981 decision that bars research assistants from banding together. There's an ongoing dispute about whether that should be
overturned.

Politics
12:30 pm
Thu January 5, 2012

Michigan child-care workers lose union lawsuit

DETROIT (AP) - A lawsuit aimed at recouping millions in union dues paid by Michigan child-care providers has fizzled.

A federal judge in Grand Rapids has issued two key rulings, including a recent decision that said there simply are too many conflicts to make it a class-action case. Judge Robert Jonker says there may be child-care providers who had no objection to paying dues. An appeal is planned.

The case centered on the representation of 40,000 home-based workers. The union was created in 2006, although only 15 percent of providers cast ballots. During the Granholm administration, officials deducted dues from subsidies paid to people who watched low-income kids.

Critics said the workers are not public employees and got no benefit from the union. Gov. Rick Snyder's administration stopped the dues last year.

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Auto/Economy
2:31 pm
Tue September 20, 2011

Details of UAW's new contract with GM emerge

General Motors Chairman and CEO Dan Akerson (left) shakes hands with United Auto Workers President Bob King at the beginning of the UAW/GM talks last August.
gmmedia.com

Update 2:31 pm:

This story was clarified at 2:00 pm to say that the $5,000 bonus was for ratification of the contract.

Pay raises for entry-level workers, five-thousand dollar bonuses for ratification, and better profit sharing. Those are among the highlights of the four-year contract local UAW leaders will recommend to General Motors’ 48,500 hourly workers.

UAW President Bob King says the union bargained a “great framework” for all three Detroit automakers.

    "They’re in different states of financial health, different states of debt. We’re hoping that this country bounces back and the European situation gets resolved – they all could be impacted by that. And we think we’ve got an agreement that helps us get through those periods of time, because we didn’t add many fixed costs to this agreement."    

The tentative contract promises to add or save 6,400 workers. Nine hundred of those are at Michigan plants.

It also provides for a $5,000 dollar ratification bonus, and raises for entry-level workers. UAW President Bob King says those workers will also see generous health care provisions – including free emergency room and urgent care visits.

"What worker being hired at any employer today starts out with the kind of health care plan that workers hiring into General Motors will have? What workers have unlimited doctor visits, $25 co-pay? Nobody."

The contract also calls for $10,000 dollar bonuses for eligible employees who retire in the next two years. Skilled tradesmen who retire between November First and the end of March would qualify for additional $65,000 bonuses.

Ratification is expected at the end of next week.

Michigan Radio's Sarah Hulett is at the United Auto Worker's press conference in Detroit today.

She's reporting on some details of the UAW's new contract with General Motors:

  • Entry level wages will be bumped up to $19.28/hr over the life of the contract plus a $5,000 ratification bonus.
  • Unlimited doctor appointments with $25 co-pay.
  • $10,000 bonus for eligible employees who retire within the next two years.
  • Additional $65,000 bonus for skilled trades who retire between November 1, 2011 and March 31, 2012.
  • Jobs will be added in Michigan at facilities in Warren, Saginaw and Romulus.

UAW President Bob King says the next target for negotiations has not yet been determined.

From the Associated Press:

Union leaders from General Motors factories around the country have endorsed a new four-year contract with the company.

They are recommending that GM's 48,500 factory workers approve the deal in votes during the next week.

The agreement reached Friday includes a $5,000 signing bonus and improved profit-sharing instead of hourly pay raises for most of the workers. About 2,400 entry-level workers will get raises. They now make $14 to $16 per hour, about half the pay of a longtime UAW worker.

Profit-sharing will be a minimum of $3,500 next year.

The union now will focus on negotiations with Chrysler, and Ford will be next.

Since Chrysler isn't making as much money as GM, workers there probably won't see as good of a deal.

 

Labor
10:18 am
Thu September 15, 2011

UM nurses to march this afternoon

Nurses at the University of Michigan have been working without a contract since July 1.
user meddygarnet Flickr

Registered nurses who work at the University of Michigan Health System and their supports say they will march to the University of Michigan Board of Regents meeting today at 2:30 p.m. They will start at the Michigan Union and "proceed to the Fleming Adminisration Building" (distance - about a block).

The Michigan Nurses Association (MNA) says the University of Michigan nurses have been working without a contract since July 1.

From an MNA press release:

Despite another profitable year and an increase in patients, UMHS have thwarted reasonable contract negotiations with the system’s 4,000 registered nurses by proposing cuts that would make it even more difficult for them to maintain patient care and safety.

The University has issued a statement in the past saying they "prefer not bargain in the media" and  "respectfully disagree" that proposed labor changes would have a negative effect on patient care.

Issues being debated include pay increases, health insurance, and benefits.

Politics
9:25 am
Mon September 12, 2011

In this morning's news...

user brother o'mara Flickr

Negotiations between UAW and automakers might go down to the wire

Contracts between the UAW and Detroit automakers expire this week. The sides have been negotiating for the past month and will likely continue to negotiate through the middle of this week. The Detroit Free Press reported that "GM's agreement... is likely to add thousands of jobs at U.S. plants, offer buyouts for skilled trades workers and enhance the profit-sharing formula.":

Chrysler has been in lockstep with talks at GM and out-of-state union leaders were told that they might need to travel to Detroit soon to review a tentative deal.

Talks were continuing at Chrysler over the weekend. CEO Sergio Marchionne said in Canada that he would be involved in the talks, even though he was traveling from Calgary, Alberta, to Detroit and then to Frankfurt, Germany, over the course of the weekend.

Meanwhile, talks lag at Ford, where economic issues have barely begun being discussed.

State to decide whether to increase testing standards this week

The state Board of Education might decide to raise school testing standards at a meeting tomorrow, according to the Detroit News. If the scores are raised, fewer schools in Michigan will be found to be proficient in key subjects:

Education officials say the changes are necessary because existing standards reward students for average work and have disguised dismal ability levels. For instance, just 10 percent of third-graders are not proficient in reading, according to last year's Michigan Education Assessment Program (MEAP) tests. State Superintendent Mike Flanagan said the newer scores will show that more than 60 percent are not proficient.

F-16s scrambled to follow a passenger plane on 9/11

Two passengers behaving suspiciously raised concerns of terrorism on a Frontier flight from Denver to Detroit yesterday. More from WXYZ.com:

People on the plane tell Action News the two men in question spent long periods of time in the plane’s lavatories. It's not clear how the woman was involved.

“They were going back and forth through the aisle,” passenger David Mungia said, describing the behavior of the two men who were taken away by police.

“One of the guys was in the bathroom for at least ten minutes,” Mungi said.

Authorities are not saying what was going on inside the lavatories but ABC News is reporting the unidentified passengers were making out.

 

Update 11:47 a.m.

The Detroit Free Press reports that reports of amorous activity on the flight are false:

Three passengers detained at Detroit Metro Airport Sunday after the crew reported suspicious activity were actually just using the rest room, according to an FBI spokeswoman in Detroit.

FBI Detroit spokeswoman Sandra Berchtold said reports about sexual encounters taking place in the rest room are false, describing them as "stories spinning out of control."

Labor
5:35 pm
Wed July 6, 2011

Farmers Insurance employees in Grand Rapids to receive back wages after investigation

The U.S. Labor Department found "significant and systemic violations of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act's overtime and record-keeping provisions" at Farmers Insurance offices around the country - including offices in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Officials at the U.S. Labor Department say "Farmers Insurance Inc. has agreed to pay $1,520,705 in overtime back wages to 3,459 employees."

From the Department of Labor press release:

Through interviews with employees and a review of the company's timekeeping and payroll systems, investigators found that the company did not account for time employees spent performing pre-shift work activities. Employees routinely performed an average of 30 minutes of unrecorded and uncompensated work — such as turning on work stations, logging into the company phone system and initiating certain software applications necessary to begin their call center duties — per week.

Because employees' pre-shift work times were excluded from official time and payroll records, they were not paid for all hours and are owed compensation at time and one-half their regular rates for hours that exceeded 40 per week.

The agreement affects call center employees who worked between Jan. 1, 2009, and May 10, 2010, at Farmers' "HelpPoint" facility in Grand Rapids.

It also affects employees who worked between Jan. 1, 2009, and Feb. 1, 2010, at a Farmers' "ServicePoint" facility in Grand Rapids.

labor protest
1:37 pm
Wed April 13, 2011

Driver sick-out idles dozens of Detroit busses

femaletrumpet02 flickr

Bus service has been disrupted in Detroit today, with dozens of drivers calling in sick to attend a labor rally in Lansing.

Lovevett Williams is with the city of Detroit’s Department of Transportation. She said the sick-out cut bus service by about 20 percent.

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Economy
12:13 pm
Fri December 3, 2010

An increase in strikes in the down economy?

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.

Read more
10:19 am
Fri September 3, 2010

Labor Day report shows trials of long-term unemployed

Workers haven't been seeing many help wanted signs in Michigan
kandyjaxx/creative commons

The unemployment picture in Michigan is still bad. It stands at 13.1% now. The worst it's been since the early 1980's.

Now, a new report by the Michigan League for Human Services puts the long-term unemployment picture into perspective.  In 2000, people unemployed for more than 26 weeks, accounted for 6.5% of the total number of unemployed. Today, the long-term unemployed account for 40.8% of the unemployed.

The report says,

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Education
5:05 pm
Tue August 31, 2010

Strike at EMU avoided

Rina Miller reports that "an agreement has been reached between Eastern Michigan University and its faculty just hours before a strike could have begun." 

In Miller's report, Howard Bunsis, with the EMU Chapter of the American Association of University Professors, says:

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Education
4:33 pm
Mon August 30, 2010

Strike looms at Eastern Michigan University

Eastern Michigan University (EMU) President, Susan Martin publicizing the school's announcement that they would not increase tuition rates this year. Now the University faces the possibility of a strike.
Steve Carmody Michigan Radio

(by Rina Miller)

The union representing Eastern Michigan University faculty may ask for a strike authorization if its contract demands are not met by midnight Tuesday.

EMU classes are scheduled to begin September 8, but union representatives say teachers may not be there if no contract agreement is reached.

EMU faculty are no strangers to walkouts: They went on strike in 2000, 2004 and 2006.

Howard Bunsis is with the union.

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