Mike Dugeon's Facebook Page / Facebook

Here's a brief review of what's been happening in the news this week:

Let's talk Medicaid expansion. What happened in Lansing?

The state Senate finally got together and the  government operations committee sent the Medicaid bill and they also sent two hastily drawn up last minute substitutes that are tea party measures, that would cost the state more. 

How are UAW negotiations going?

The state passed right-to-work last December but there's the question of whether it applies to state employees, which is pending before the state Supreme Court. 

What are the developments in the 2014 U.S. Senate race?

Sort of unexpectedly, long time Republican representative Dave Camp is talking about getting into the 2014 race for the U.S. senate. This is for the seat Carl Levin is vacating after 36 years. Now, former Secretary of State Terry Lynn Land has been up until now the only Republican candidate but she's vowing that if Mr. Camp gets in she'll give him a spirited fight. 

A look at the Detroit mayoral race: Duggan v. Dugeon

If it's close at all, it could be weeks before we find out who's facing who. It could be a Florida-recount-style mess. 

To listen to the full discussion, click the link above.

The FBI has just completed a nationwide sweep resulting in the arrest of 150 pimps and the rescue of 105 children who had been forced into prostitution. We took a closer look at human trafficking in our state.

And, we spoke with Leigh Ann Ulrey, one of 30 college graduates to be selected for the Challenge Detroit program.

And, a new House bill could eliminate state income tax. State Representative Bob Genetski joined us to talk about why he thinks income tax is unnecessary.

Also, self-driving cars could be available to consumers within the next 2-3 years, according to Google. We found out what the future of transportation might look like.

First on the show, there was an important handshake this afternoon in Lansing.

UAW President Bob King shook hands with state government officials to officially launch the start of contract talks.

UAW Local 6000's contract with the state expires at the end of 2014. But the state needs to finalize the next contract by the end of this year in order to get it funded in next year's budget. Local 6000 represents 17,000 state employees.

Let's look at what the big issues might be in the negotiations.

Rick Pluta, Michigan Public Radio Network's Lansing bureau chief, joined us today.

Rick Pluta / Michigan Public Radio

There was an important handshake this afternoon in Lansing.

UAW President Bob King shook hands with state government officials to officially launch the start of 2013 labor negotiations.

UAW Local 6000's contract with the state expires at the end of 2014. But the state needs to finalize the next contract by the end of this year in order to get it funded in next year's budget. Local 6000 represents 17,000 state employees.

Let's look at what the big issues might be in the negotiations.

Rick Pluta, Michigan Public Radio Network's Lansing bureau chief, joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

DETROIT (AP) - The United Auto Workers union says its membership has edged up in the past year after decades of contraction with the shrinking of U.S. auto industry employment.

The Detroit-based union says it reported its 2012 membership figure to the U.S. government Thursday.

The UAW says it had 382,513 members last year, up from 380,716 in 2011. That's an increase of 1,797, or 0.5 percent.

User: Brother O'Mara / flickr

Let's skip the lawsuits and go straight to the top

That's the idea behind Gov. Snyder's call for the Michigan Supreme Court to rule on the constitutionality of the state's new right-to-work law.Rick Pluta explains where the legal challenges could come from:

One is whether exemptions in the law for police and firefighter unions violate the equal protection clause of the U-S Constitution. Another is whether the state Civil Service Commission has the autonomy under the Michigan Constitution to ignore the right-to-work law.

Opponents of the right-to-work legislation called the governor's move cynical, saying the legislation by-passed the normal committee process when it was written and now the Gov. is asking for it to by-pass the court system. The Supreme Court has a Republican majority of 4-2. It will likely be a 5-2 majority after Snyder appoints another Justice to fill a vacancy.

Ford made $5.67 billion in net income for 2012

It was a good year for the automaker. From the Detroit News:

It was in North America where Ford posted a 10.4 percent profit margin in 2012, and because of that success, 45,800 United Auto Workers hourly members will receive profit-sharing checks worth approximately $8,300, which will be paid in March.

Snow yesterday, rain today

Good conditions for flooding. From the National Weather Service:

An area of rainfall will accompany a warm front through southeast Michigan today... with another round of heavier rainfall expected to arrive tonight. This in combination with the melting snow and rapid runoff on frozen ground will allow area rivers and streams to rise and bring the potential for localized flooding of some low lying and poor drainage areas.

Stateside: Right-to-work legislation takes effect on March 27

Jan 28, 2013
Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

The following is a summary of a previously recorded interview. To hear the complete segment, click the audio above.

On March 27, Michigan will become the 24th state to adopt right-to-work legislation.

Roland Zullo of the Institute for Research on Labor, Employment and Economy at the University of Michigan and Vincent Vernuccio of The Mackinac Center for Public Policy spoke with Cyndy today about the legislation.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - The United Auto Workers and other labor unions are calling on members to protest before and during Gov. Rick Snyder's third State of the State address in Lansing.

The Republican governor's speech is scheduled for Wednesday evening in the state Capitol.

The UAW and other unions are planning to be outside to protest GOP policies they say are hurting the middle class. They're especially upset about a new law ending requirements that workers pay union dues or fees as a condition of employment.

Italian automaker Fiat, already Chrysler's majority owner, has announced plans to acquire another stake in the Detroit car company.

Fiat currently owns 58.57 percent of Chrysler.  The rest is held by VEBA - the Voluntary Employee Beneficiary Association.  The VEBA was given stock in Chrysler in lieu of cash payments to cover union retiree health care costs, which were shifted to the UAW in 2007.

Fiat says it intends to exercise an option for 3.3% of VEBA's stock, for $198 million.

Stateside: UAW President Bob King addresses right-to-work

Dec 11, 2012

Protestors swarm the Capitol as right-to-work rapidly moves through the Legislature.

Among the chanting men and women is UAW President Bob King.

Today he spoke with Cyndy about the problems he sees in right-to-work.

"Right-to-work is trying to undermine unions' ability to serve their members. It isn't good for companies. It's a huge mistake," said King.

He addressed various percentages of union participation.

screen grab / WDIV

In a speech Monday in front of employees from Redford Township’s Detroit Diesel engine factory, President Barack Obama weighed in on Michigan’s impending right-to-work legislation.

About halfway through the President’s address, intended to promote his plan for averting the fiscal cliff, Obama took up the issue of right-to-work, the Detroit Free Press Reports:

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan Radio’s senior political analyst Jack Lessenberry and Detroit News’s Daniel Howes discussed the implications of right-to-work in Michigan.

According to Howes, the right-to-work legislation is representative of the country’s current political divide.

“I view this in the context of the reckoning that is going on in Michigan in terms of its trying to come to terms with its post-war industrial past. The UAW has become dramatically weaker, dramatically smaller. This is indicative of the political divide we’re seeing in our country,” said Howes.

As you probably know, a Titanic battle has been going on for years now over whether to build a new bridge over the Detroit River.

On one side is Governor Rick Snyder, the government of Canada, Ford, Chrysler and General Motors, and the chambers of commerce. On the other side, Matty Moroun’s family, the owners of the Ambassador Bridge, who right now have a monopoly on moving billions in heavy automotive components from Detroit to Ontario.

The Moroun family, that is, together with those who support their position because of their money.

"The enemy of my enemy is my friend."    

Sun Tzu, The Art of War

The Detroit Free Press reports that the United Auto Workers union - no friend to Governor Rick Snyder - is considering a deal with billionaire Ambassador Bridge owner Matty Moroun - also no friend to the Governor.

The deal would involve Moroun helping the union pay for ads in support of Proposal 2, which would enshrine labor organizing rights in the state constitution.

Concept NITC Drawing

Mickey Blashfield, Ambassador Bridge owner Matty Moroun's director of government relations and head of the Moroun-financed group "The People Should Decide" released a statement following a report from the Detroit Free Press on a possible deal between the UAW and Moroun.

Nathan Boomey and Brent Snavely of the Detroit Free Press have a report on a "2 for 6" deal between the UAW and Ambassador Bridge owner Matty Moroun. 'You support my proposal.... I'll support yours.' Michigan Radio's Tracy Samilton is following up on this report.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Delegates here have heard from Dow Chemical Company, DTE, the AFL-CIO, various Democratic Party officials and Bob King. King is the President of the United Auto Workers and in Michigan, that carries weight.

He told them Michigan delegates that the platform approved by the Republicans at their convention calls for restricting labor’s right to bargain.

“The baby step in my mind is that they’d pass a national ‘Right to Work.’ They want to do much more than that. They want to take away the right from workers to bargain on conditions at work, their pensions, their healthcare.”

User:Brother O'Mara / flickr

Teachers challenge retirement bills

"The first day of classes was also the day Governor Rick Snyder approved some big changes to how teachers and other public school employees will save for retirement. The new law will require teachers to pay more for retirement benefits. New employees will no longer get retirement health care coverage, but a savings account to help them buy insurance. Teachers unions are already in court to challenge the law.  A judge in Ingham County struck down part of the law within a few hours of the governor signing it. Judge Rosemary Aquilina said retired teachers deserve more time to choose whether they will pay more for their existing benefits, or choose reduced benefits. The new law gave them a month and a half to make their decision," Rick Pluta reports.

Special primary election today in southeast Michigan

"Five Detroit-area Republican candidates are competing for the chance to serve the final weeks of former U.S. Rep. Thaddeus McCotter's term in Congress. A special GOP primary election is being held Wednesday to pick a candidate to face Belleville Democrat David Curson in the Nov. 6 special general election. The winner of that race will serve only from mid-November until the end of the year. A separate contest on the Nov. 6 ballot will decide who fills the seat for the next two years. Republican ex-teacher Kerry Bentivolio faces Democratic Canton Township Trustee Syed Taj in that race. McCotter resigned this summer during an investigation of irregularities in the nominating petitions that kept the Livonia Republican from seeking re-election. Three former aides are charged with scheming to submit false signatures," according to the AP.

UAW president to address the DNC tonight

"United Auto Workers says union President Bob King is scheduled to address the Democratic National Convention. The Detroit-based union says King will speak this evening during the event in Charlotte, N.C. The UAW says 89 of its members are delegates to the convention," according to the AP.

User IFCAR / Wikimedia Commons

In mid-September, General Motors will temporarily close the Detroit-Hamtramck plant that makes the Chevrolet Volt for about a month.

via Walter P. Reuther Library / Wayne State University

The UAW remembered the 75th anniversary of the “Battle of the Overpass” Friday.

Many union members see the event as a pivotal point in Detroit--and national--labor history.

On May 26th, 1937, UAW President Walter Reuther and other union leaders were trying to organize workers at the massive Ford Rouge plant in Dearborn.

A confrontation ensued, and some union leaders were badly beaten by members of Henry Ford’s security team.

Bernie Ricke is President of UAW Local 600, which represents Ford Rouge workers today.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Protesters lined a busy thoroughfare in Troy Tuesday evening.

Attendees pulling into the parking lot at the San Marino Club for the Ronald Reagan Memorial Dinner were booed by the protesters, who were there to protest Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s appearance at the Oakland County Republican fundraiser.

Spring has sprung; 99% spring events are coming

Apr 2, 2012
Valerie O'Rourkefrom the 99% Spring Blog / from the 99% Spring Blog

Earlier this year, we told you about The 99% Spring, the protest movement sponsored by a variety of political and labor groups including MoveOn.org, the United Auto Workers and the Teamsters Union.

It’s part of a fresh wave of protests that are taking place across the country, in the wake of the Occupy movement.

Starting next week, 99% Spring events will be kicking off across the United States, and especially in the Midwest.

Supporters are vowing to train 100,000 people to “to tell the story of what happened to our economy, learn the history of non-violent direct action, and use that knowledge to take action on our own campaigns to win change.”

Over the weekend, the UAW sent an email to its members, encouraging them to take part.

“We are at a crucial point in America where if we continue to ignore the opportunity to rebuild this great country, then we risk losing the very essence of what has made this country great,” the email said. 

Some 918 events have been scheduled thus far. MoveOn.org, which is associated with the Democratic Party, has a locator for events, where you can put in your zip code and find those closest to you.

Here are the ones for the Detroit area, Chicago and Milwaukee, and Cleveland. To be sure, the 99% Spring movement hasn’t said what will happen once people are trained, but given the training events, it’s pretty clear it will meet its goal of training 100,000 people.

Are you planning to take part in 99% Spring? Let us know where and when.

United Auto Workers President Bob King says a coalition of unions will push for an amendment to the Michigan Constitution that bars so-called "right-to-work" legislation outlawing contracts that require employees to join unions.

Republicans who control the state Legislature have been pushing for a law that would ban labor agreements with mandatory union dues. Republican Gov. Rick Snyder has said the issue is not a priority for his administration.

King told about 1,000 people at the UAW's national convention in Washington on Thursday that a union coalition will push for a November ballot issue protecting the right to have union shops.

The Detroit News reports King says unions agreed on the drive at a meeting Wednesday. He says they'll seek 500,000 signatures, about twice what's needed.

Chrysler's Windsor Assembly Plant.

Publicus Tacitus, the Roman senator, is given credit for coining the phrase, “Success has many fathers, but failure is an orphan.”

He’d feel right at home during the Michigan Republican primary campaign.

Over the past few weeks, candidates, their opponents and those who played a role have been debating just who should get credit for the auto industry bailout.

It’s a long-overdue discussion of what happened a little over three years ago, and the conversation shows just what a political hot button the situation still is for people in Michigan and the Midwest. Here’s a list of credit takers and how they make their cases.

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

Saturday marks the 75th anniversary of the end of the Flint Sit Down Strike.   

Hundreds of UAW members gathered in Flint today to commemorate the pivotal moment in the history of the union movement.   

Union members honored in song the six surviving sit down strikers and women’s brigade members who gathered to mark the anniversary of the strike that many say legitimized the United Auto Workers union.

Art Reyes is the president of UAW local 651.   He says the surviving sit-down strikers are an inspiration.

wikimedia commons

Last week, we reported an Associated Press estimate that predicted a $1,500 profit-sharing bonus for Chryslers hourly employees based on the automaker's earnings figures contractual obligations with workers.

Now an email from Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne to UAW members posted by the Detroit News suggests the bonuses will go out early.

screen grab from YouTube video

DETROIT (AP) - Factory workers at Chrysler are getting $1,500 profit-sharing checks next month, a sign the automaker's turnaround is succeeding.

About 26,000 union-represented workers in the U.S. should get the payments, according to Chrysler's contract with the United Auto Workers union. The profit-sharing figure is based on an Associated Press analysis of company earnings, and the labor contract formula for profit-sharing.

Chrysler would not say how much the workers will get. But the formula in its new four-year contract with the UAW shows that the checks will be about $1,500. The checks are based on Chrysler's $2 billion operating profit for 2011, reported on Wednesday.

Chrysler reported full-year net income of $183 million, its first since 1997.

Ian Britton / freefoto.com

Union leaders, environmental groups and some auto industry representatives are applauding new fuel efficiency standards proposed by President Obama.

The Environmental Protection Agency held a public hearing on the new rules in Detroit Tuesday.

The Obama administration’s proposed rule actually measures greenhouse gas emissions. But when translated into the usual lingo, that’s about 54 miles per gallon—roughly double the current standard.

Library of Congress

Last month, Michigan Radio's Steve Carmody visited Flint to report on the 75th anniversary of the start of the Flint sit down strike, a work stoppage at multiple GM facilities beginning in 1936, which Carmody says was "pivotal to the birth of the United Auto Workers," and had profound implications for American organized labor in general.

Carmody writes:

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

Today is the 75th anniversary of one of the key moments in the history of organized labor in the United States: The beginning of the Flint Sit Down Strike.   

The Flint Sit-Down Strike was pivotal to the birth of the United Auto Workers.   

Three-quarters of a century later the echoes of the event still resonate.  

After a four-year absence, the United Auto Workers and Detroit automakers Chrysler, Ford and General Motors will be one of the sponsors for the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl.

This year's college football bowl game features Western Michigan University against Purdue.

The return to sponsorship of the nationally televised game is another sign of the domestic auto industry’s return to normal.