Workers praise Gov. Gretchen Whitmer for signing Repeal of GOP Union-Busting ‘Right to Work’ Law
By: Laina G. Stebbins –
( Michigan Advance ) – Unions and other pro-labor groups on Friday celebrated the signing of a set of bills to reverse GOP former Gov. Rick Snyder-era laws that have curtailed union power and pushed down wages.
Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Friday afternoon signed House Bills 4004 and 4007 and Senate Bill 34. HB 4004 repeals Right to Work for public-sector employees, while SB 34 does the same for private-sector workers. HB 4007 restores the practice of prevailing wage into law.Gov. Gretchen Whitmer speaks at a rally in support of gun safety legislation with former U.S. Rep. Gabby Giffords on March 15, 2023. (Andrew Roth/Michigan Advance)
“These bills will protect health and safety, ensuring healthcare workers can put patient care ahead of profit, construction workers can speak up when there’s a safety issue, and employees can call attention to food safety threats and other problems,” Whitmer said in a statement. “Let’s continue delivering for working people and ensuring Michigan is open for business.”
With her signature, Michigan is now the first state in nearly 60 years to repeal any Right to Work laws. The 2012 laws, which were highly controversial, allowed workers to get all union benefits without having to pay dues.
Its passage in the GOP-led Legislature drew a crowd of roughly 12,000 protesters. It also contained an appropriation, rendering citizens unable to repeal it.
In 2018, the GOP-led Legislature also approved an initiative repealing prevailing wage for contracted workers on state projects.
Both policies have been a major target for Democrats, who have gained control of the Michigan Legislature for the first time in decades.
“After decades of anti-worker attacks, Michigan has restored the balance of power for working people by passing laws to protect their freedom to bargain for the good wages, good benefits, and safe workplaces they deserve,” said Ron Bieber, president of Michigan AFL-CIO.
“Ten years ago, Governor Whitmer was standing side by side with well over ten thousand working people who showed up in Lansing to protest the devastating attack on their rights. Today, she has demonstrated yet again her unwavering commitment to putting working families first. After decades of attacks on working people, it’s a new day in Michigan, and the future is bright.”
Republicans and some business groups, like the Michigan Chamber of Commerce, opposed their repeals.
Union members and supporters rally in solidarity with striking Kellogg workers at Festival Market Square in Battle Creek, Dec. 17, 2021 | Laina G. Stebbins
Gov. Whitmer and Democrats have hurt Michigan’s ability to compete to attract high-paying careers,” said House Minority Leader Matt Hall. (R-Richland Twp.). Their pay cut plan has repealed our right-to-work law, forcing unionization on Michigan workers and taking the fruits of their labor. Without right-to-work, businesses will find more competitive states for their manufacturing plants and research and development facilities, and workers and careers will drift away. To add economic insult to injury, the Democrats’ prevailing wage law will expose small businesses in our communities to frivolous legal harassment from competitors and activists.
Other groups praising the RTW repeal and prevailing wage enactment Friday include SEIU Michigan, Michigan Nurses Association (MNA), Michigan Regional Council of Carpenters and Millwrights, AFSCME Council 25, United Food and Commercial Workers Local 951, Upper Peninsula Regional Labor Federation and Michigan United.
“This is a historic day for Michigan’s working families. For more than a decade, working Michiganders — predominantly Black and brown — have fought the unjust right to work law,” said SEIU Local 1 President Genie Kastrup.
“With this harmful law being repealed, working people will be able to build a stronger worker-led union, and win higher wages and better benefits. SEIU Local 1 working families have fought long and hard to raise the labor standard in Michigan and build a state that works for all of us — this is a great leap in the right direction.”
Laina G. Stebbins
Laina G. Stebbins covers the environment, Native issues and criminal justice for the Advance. A lifelong Michigander, she is a graduate of Michigan State University’s School of Journalism, where she served as Founding Editor of The Tab Michigan State and as a reporter for the Capital News Service.
The Legacy Of Frances Perkins – “It’s Up To Us To Contribute Some Small Part To The Human Betterment For All Time”
Heather Cox Richardson
On March 25, 1911, Frances Perkins was visiting with a friend who lived near Washington Square in New York City when they heard fire engines and screams. They rushed out to the street to see what the trouble was. A fire had broken out in a garment factory on the upper floors of a building on Washington Square, and the blaze ripped through the lint in the air. The only way out was down the elevator, which had been abandoned at the base of its shaft, or through an exit to the roof. But the factory owner had locked the roof exit that day because, he later testified, he was worried some of his workers might steal some of the blouses they were making.
“The people had just begun to jump when we got there,” Perkins later recalled. “They had been holding until that time, standing in the windowsills, being crowded by others behind them, the fire pressing closer and closer, the smoke closer and closer. Finally the men were trying to get out this thing that the firemen carry with them, a net to catch people if they do jump, the[y] were trying to get that out and they couldn’t wait any longer. They began to jump. The…weight of the bodies was so great, at the speed at which they were traveling that they broke through the net. Every one of them was killed, everybody who jumped was killed. It was a horrifying spectacle.”
By the time the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire was out, 147 young people were dead, either from their fall from the factory windows or from smoke inhalation.
Perkins had few illusions about industrial America: she had worked in a settlement house in an impoverished immigrant neighborhood in Chicago and was the head of the New York office of the National Consumers League, urging consumers to use their buying power to demand better conditions and wages for workers. But even she was shocked by the scene she witnessed on March 25.
By the next day, New Yorkers were gathering to talk about what had happened on their watch. “I can’t begin to tell you how disturbed the people were everywhere,” Perkins said. “It was as though we had all done something wrong. It shouldn’t have been. We were sorry…. We didn’t want it that way. We hadn’t intended to have 147 girls and boys killed in a factory. It was a terrible thing for the people of the City of New York and the State of New York to face.”
The Democratic majority leader in the New York legislature, Al Smith—who would a few years later go on to four terms as New York governor and become the Democratic presidential nominee in 1928—went to visit the families of the dead to express his sympathy and his grief. “It was a human, decent, natural thing to do,” Perkins said, “and it was a sight he never forgot. It burned it into his mind. He also got to the morgue, I remember, at just the time when the survivors were being allowed to sort out the dead and see who was theirs and who could be recognized. He went along with a number of others to the morgue to support and help, you know, the old father or the sorrowing sister, do her terrible picking out.”
“This was the kind of shock that we all had,” Perkins remembered.
The next Sunday, concerned New Yorkers met at the Metropolitan Opera House with the conviction that “something must be done. We’ve got to turn this into some kind of victory, some kind of constructive action….” One man contributed $25,000 to fund citizens’ action to “make sure that this kind of thing can never happen again.”
The gathering appointed a committee, which asked the legislature to create a bipartisan commission to figure out how to improve fire safety in factories. For four years, Frances Perkins was their chief investigator.
She later explained that although their mission was to stop factory fires, “we went on and kept expanding the function of the commission ’till it came to be the report on sanitary conditions and to provide for their removal and to report all kinds of unsafe conditions and then to report all kinds of human conditions that were unfavorable to the employees, including long hours, including low wages, including the labor of children, including the overwork of women, including homework put out by the factories to be taken home by the women. It included almost everything you could think of that had been in agitation for years. We were authorized to investigate and report and recommend action on all these subjects.”
And they did. Al Smith was the speaker of the house when they published their report, and soon would become governor. Much of what the commission recommended became law.
Perkins later mused that perhaps the new legislation to protect workers had in some way paid the debt society owed to the young people who died in the Triangle Shirtwaist fire. “The extent to which this legislation in New York marked a change in American political attitudes and policies toward social responsibility can scarcely be overrated,” she said. “It was, I am convinced, a turning point.”
But she was not done. In 1919, over the fervent objections of men, Governor Smith appointed Perkins to the New York State Industrial Commission to help weed out the corruption that was weakening the new laws. She continued to be one of his closest advisers on labor issues. In 1929, when Franklin Delano Roosevelt replaced Smith as New York governor, he appointed Perkins to oversee the state’s labor department as the Depression worsened. When President Herbert Hoover claimed that unemployment was ending, Perkins made national news when she repeatedly called him out with figures proving the opposite and said his “misleading statements” were “cruel and irresponsible.” She began to work with leaders from other states to figure out how to protect workers and promote employment by working together.
In 1933, after the people had rejected Hoover’s plan to let the Depression burn itself out, President-elect Roosevelt asked Perkins to serve as Secretary of Labor in his administration. She accepted only on the condition that he back her goals: unemployment insurance, health insurance, old-age insurance, a 40-hour work week, a minimum wage, and abolition of child labor. She later recalled: “I remember he looked so startled, and he said, ‘Well, do you think it can be done?’”
She promised to find out.
Once in office, Perkins was a driving force behind the administration’s massive investment in public works projects to get people back to work. She urged the government to spend $3.3 billion on schools, roads, housing, and post offices. Those projects employed more than a million people in 1934.
In 1935, FDR signed the Social Security Act, providing ordinary Americans with unemployment insurance; aid to homeless, dependent, and neglected children; funds to promote maternal and child welfare; and public health services.
In 1938, Congress passed the Fair Labor Standards Act, which established a minimum wage and maximum hours. It banned child labor.
Frances Perkins, and all those who worked with her, transformed the horror of the Triangle Shirtwaist fire into the heart of our nation’s basic social safety net.
“There is always a large horizon…. There is much to be done,” Perkins said. “It is up to you to contribute some small part to a program of human betterment for all time.”
Fasten Your Seatbelts As Maga Republicans Want To Destroy The Economy For Political Purposes
Guns Don’t Kill People Americans Kill People
The Roscommon County Commission Vote On The Ostergren Sponsored Gun Sanctuary Resolution
The vote was 3 to 2. Milborn and Sensor voted against it based on the wording saying “any law” as opposed to laws restricting guns rights.
Several spoke out against it. Chairperson Russo was the tie breaker, who later claimed it wasn’t a political issue. The people that spoke in favor of the resolution apparently have drunk the Faux News Koolaid, as the “facts” they mentioned were propaganda talking talks. There is a huge disconnect between what is reality and what people believe to be true.
Let’s not forget this vote. Pass the word to friends and family in our community and suggest that the call or email their commissioners thanks those who stood up for sensible gun reform and disappointment in those who voted for this politically motivated proposal.
You may want to write a short piece and submit it to the editor, Eric Hamp, at the Houghton Lake Resorter letting his readers in our community that we are not pleased with the decision made by the commission.
Thanks for your concern regarding this important issue in our society. Deaths due to gun violence is expanding and can potentially affect us all. In the esteemed opinion of 3 of our commissioners we need more than the 300,000,000 guns in our society than we do now. They haven’t made me safer. How about you?
Steve Martin -RCDP
Russia’s Gamble & Biden Protects Land Treasures
Heather Cox Richardson
As you know, I try to write this record of modern America from the perspective of what stories will matter in 150 years (about the span between the present and the Civil War).
So, for all the chop in the water about the former president facing indictments, the story that really seems uppermost to me today is the visit China’s president Xi Jinping made today to Moscow for a meeting with Russia’s president Vladimir Putin.
National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Communications John Kirby told reporters today that China and Russia would both like “to see the rest of the world play by their rules rather than the ones that…are enshrined in the U.N. Charter and what everybody else is…following.” Kirby said the White House sees the relationship of Xi and Putin as a “marriage of convenience.” He explained:
“In President Putin and Russia, President Xi sees a counterweight to American influence and NATO influence certainly on the continent and elsewhere around the world. In President Xi, President Putin sees a potential backer.” Putin needs Xi’s support because of his misadventure in Ukraine. There, Kirby said, Putin is “blowing through inventory. He’s blowing through manpower. His military is getting embarrassed constantly. They’ve lost greater than 50 percent of the territory that they took in the first few months of this war. He needs help from President Xi, and that’s what this visit was all about.”
“Now,” he added, “whether it results in anything, we’ll see.”
When a reporter asked Kirby if Xi would provide lethal aid to Russia, Kirby answered, “We don’t think that China is taking it off the table, but they haven’t moved in that direction. We’ve seen no indication that they’re about to or — or fixing to provide lethal weapons.”
The Institute for the Study of War concluded that the outcome of the meeting was likely less than Putin wanted. It noted that Putin represented the meeting as showing the two countries working together against an adversarial West, while Xi only said the two countries were working together. This is a significant step down from the stance China took before Russia’s 2022 invasion of Ukraine, in which it declared it had a “no limits partnership” with Russia, suggesting China is not inclined to give Russia all the support it needs for that war.
Putin has been trying to rally states in Africa to his cause and likely hoped Xi would help that effort, but he did not.
The People’s Republic of China (PRC) and Russia put out a statement deepening their cooperation, but Sam Greene, Director for Democratic Resilience at the Center for European Policy Analysis (CEPA) and Professor of Russian Politics at King’s College London, noted that the economic benefits of the statement all flowed from Russia to China, including Russia’s announcement that it will use yuan for foreign transactions with Asia, Africa, and Latin America.
“This summit…brings home exactly how much Putin has lost,” Greene wrote. “Prior to the war—even after 2014—Putin occupied a position of strategic maneuverability. He could arbitrage between east and west, reaping windfalls for his regime along the way. That’s all gone now. Putin tells his people he’s fighting for Russia’s sovereignty. In truth, he’s mortgaged the Kremlin to Beijing.”
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida of Japan met with Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelensky today in a surprise trip to Ukraine at Zelensky’s invitation. It is the first visit of a Japanese prime minister to a country at war since World War II and demonstrates Japan’s growing international foreign policy presence. Last month, when Japan pledged $5.5 billion in humanitarian aid to Ukraine, Kishida said: “Russia’s aggression against Ukraine is not just a European matter, but a challenge to the rules and principles of the entire international community.” Today, he confirmed Japan’s “solidarity and unwavering support for Ukraine.”
The next most important issue of the day, to my mind, was President Joe Biden’s designation of two new national monuments under the Antiquities Act of 1906: Avi Kwa Ame in Nevada and Castner Range in Texas. These are Biden’s second and third new monument designations. Last fall he created the Camp Hale–Continental Divide National Monument in Colorado, and in 2021 he restored the protections to Bears Ears, Grand Staircase–Escalante, and Northeast Canyons and Seamounts National Monuments that Trump had removed. Both of the new monuments cover land sacred to Indigenous American tribes. Together, they protect nearly 514,000 acres.
Biden also directed Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo to start the process of designating a marine sanctuary in the Pacific covering 777,000 square miles.
Biden is advancing his promise to conserve American lands, but he is also answering criticism of his administration’s approval of the controversial Alaska Willow oil drilling project on March 13. ConocoPhillips had existing leases for the project, and it has bipartisan support in Alaska, where locals expect it will bring jobs and income, so after debate, the administration let the project move forward. But environmentalists and those who recognize the immediate need to address climate change vehemently opposed the project, launched lawsuits immediately, and criticized the president.
“Our national wonders are literally the envy of the world,″ Biden said as he announced the new monuments. “They’ve always been and always will be central to our heritage as a people and essential to our identity as a nation.″
But while conservation groups and tribal members cheered the new designations, the new Republican governor of Nevada, Joe Lombardo, said that the federal government was confiscating Nevada land—a red-hot issue in the home state of the Bundy ranchers who have engaged in armed standoffs with law enforcement officers over public land—and said the new Nevada monument is “a historic mistake that will cost Nevadans for generations to come.”
The New Trump Tower
Our Dream Trump’s Nightmare
Climate Change Is Speeding Toward Catastrophe. The Next Decade Is Crucial, U.N. Panel Says.
A new report says it is still possible to hold global warming to relatively safe levels, but doing so will require global cooperation, billions of dollars and big changes.
By Brad Plumer
Published March 20, 2023Updated March 21, 2023, 12:05 p.m. ET
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Earth is likely to cross a critical threshold for global warming within the next decade, and nations will need to make an immediate and drastic shift away from fossil fuels to prevent the planet from overheating dangerously beyond that level, according to a major new report released on Monday.
The report, by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a body of experts convened by the United Nations, offers the most comprehensive understanding to date of ways in which the planet is changing. It says that global average temperatures are estimated to rise 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) above preindustrial levels sometime around “the first half of the 2030s,” as humans continue to burn coal, oil and natural gas.
That number holds a special significance in global climate politics: Under the 2015 Paris climate agreement, virtually every nation agreed to “pursue efforts” to hold global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. Beyond that point, scientists say, the impacts of catastrophic heat waves, flooding, drought, crop failures and species extinction become significantly harder for humanity to handle.
But Earth has already warmed an average of 1.1 degrees Celsius since the industrial age, and, with global fossil-fuel emissions setting records last year, that goal is quickly slipping out of reach.
There is still one last chance to shift course, the new report says. But it would require industrialized nations to join together immediately to slash greenhouse gases roughly in half by 2030 and then stop adding carbon dioxide to the atmosphere altogether by the early 2050s. If those two steps were taken, the world would have about a 50 percent chance of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
Delays of even a few years would most likely make that goal unattainable, guaranteeing a hotter, more perilous future.
“The pace and scale of what has been done so far and current plans are insufficient to tackle climate change,” said Hoesung Lee, the chair of the climate panel. “We are walking when we should be sprinting
The report comes as the world’s two biggest polluters, China and the United States, continue to approve new fossil fuel projects. Last year, China issued permits for 168 coal-fired power plants of various sizes, according to the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air in Finland. Last week, the Biden administration approved an enormous oil drilling project known as Willow that will take place on pristine federal land in Alaska
The report, which was approved by 195 governments, says that existing and currently planned fossil fuel infrastructure — coal-fired power plants, oil wells, factories, cars and trucks across the globe — will already produce enough carbon dioxide to warm the planet roughly 2 degrees Celsius this century. To keep warming below that level, many of those projects would need to be canceled, retired early or otherwise cleaned up.
“The 1.5 degree limit is achievable, but it will take a quantum leap in climate action,” António Guterres, the United Nations secretary general, said. In response to the report, Mr. Guterres called on countries to stop building new coal plants and to stop approving new oil and gas projects.
Many scientists have pointed out that surpassing the 1.5 degree threshold will not mean humanity is doomed. But every fraction of a degree of additional warming is expected to increase the severity of dangers that people around the world face, such as water scarcity, malnutrition and deadly heat waves.
The difference between 1.5 degrees of warming and 2 degrees might mean that tens of millions more people worldwide experience life-threatening heat waves, water shortages and coastal flooding. A 1.5-degree world might still have coral reefs and summer Arctic sea ice, while a 2-degree world most likely would not.
“It’s not that if we go past 1.5 degrees everything is lost,” said Joeri Rogelj, director of research at the Grantham Institute for Climate Change and the Environment at Imperial College London. “But there’s clear evidence that 1.5 is better than 1.6, which is better than 1.7, and so on. The point is we need to do everything we can to keep warming as low as possible.”
Scientists say that warming will largely halt once humans stop adding heat-trapping gases to the atmosphere, a concept known as “net zero” emissions. How quickly nations reach net zero will determine how hot the planet ultimately becomes. Under the current policies of national governments, Earth is on pace to heat up by 2.1 to 2.9 degrees Celsius this century, analysts have estimated.
Both the United States and European Union have set goals of reaching net zero emissions by 2050, while China has set a 2060 goal and India is aiming for 2070. But in light of the report’s findings, Mr. Guterres said, all countries should move faster and wealthy countries should aim to reach net zero by 2040.
The new report is a synthesis of six previous landmark reports on climate change issued by the U.N. panel since 2018, each one compiled by hundreds of experts across the globe, approved by 195 countries and based on thousands of scientific studies. Taken together, the reports represent the most comprehensive look to date at the causes of global warming, the impacts that rising temperatures are having on people and ecosystems across the world and the strategies that countries can pursue to halt global warming.
The report makes clear that humanity’s actions today have the potential to fundamentally reshape the planet for thousands of years.
Many of the most dire climate scenarios once feared by scientists, such as those forecasting warming of 4 degrees Celsius or more, now look unlikely, as nations have invested more heavily in clean energy. At least 18 countries, including the United States, have managed to reduce their emissions for more than a decade, the report finds, while the costs of solar panels, wind turbines and lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles have plummeted.
At the same time, even relatively modest increases in global temperature are now expected to be more disruptive than previously thought, the report concludes.
At current levels of warming, for instance, food production is starting to come under strain. The world is still producing more food each year, thanks to improvements in farming and crop technology, but climate change has slowed the rate of growth, the report says. It’s an ominous trend that puts food security at risk as the world’s population soars past eight billion people.
Today, the world is seeing record-shattering storms in California and catastrophic drought in places like East Africa. But by the 2030s, as temperatures rise, climate hazards are expected to increase all over the globe as different countries face more crippling heat waves, worsening coastal flooding and crop failures, the report says. At the same time, mosquitoes carrying diseases like malaria and dengue will spread into new areas, it adds.
Nations have made some strides in preparing for the dangers of global warming, the report says, for instance by building coastal barriers against rising oceans or establishing early-warning systems for future storms. But many of those adaptation efforts are “incremental” and lack sufficient funding, particularly in poorer countries, the report finds.
And if temperatures keep rising, many parts of the world may soon face limits in how much they can adapt. Beyond 1.5 degrees Celsius of warming, low-lying island nations and communities that depend on glaciers may face severe freshwater shortages.
To stave off a chaotic future, the report recommends that nations move away from the fossil fuels that have underpinned economies for more than 180 years.
Governments and companies would need to invest three to six times the roughly $600 billion they now spend annually on encouraging clean energy in order to hold global warming at 1.5 or 2 degrees, the report says. While there is currently enough global capital to do so, much of it is difficult for developing countries to acquire. The question of what wealthy, industrialized nations owe to poor, developing countries has been divisive at global climate negotiations.
A wide array of strategies are available for reducing fossil-fuel emissions, such as scaling up wind and solar power, shifting to electric vehicles and electric heat pumps in buildings, curbing methane emissions from oil and gas operations, and protecting forests.
But that may not be enough: Countries may also have to remove billions of tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere each year, relying on technology that barely exists today.
The report acknowledges the enormous challenges ahead. Winding down coal, oil and gas projects would mean job losses and economic dislocation. Some climate solutions come with difficult trade-offs: Protecting forests, for instance, means less land for agriculture; manufacturing electric vehicles requires mining metals for use in their batteries.
And because nations have waited so long to cut emissions, they will have to spend hundreds of billions of dollars to adapt to climate risks that are now unavoidable.
The new report is expected to inform the next round of United Nations climate talks this December in Dubai, where world leaders will gather to assess their progress in tackling global warming. At last year’s climate talks in Sharm el Sheik, language calling for an end to fossil fuels was struck from the final agreement after pressure from several oil-producing nations.
“Without a radical shift away from fossil fuels over the next few years, the world is certain to blow past the 1.5 C goal.” said Ani Dasgupta, president of the World Resources Institute, an environmental group. “The I.P.C.C. makes plain that continuing to build new unabated fossil fuel power plants would seal that fate,” he added, using the abbreviation for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
The American Petroleum Institute, an industry trade group, responded by saying that oil and gas companies were working on technologies to curb emissions such as carbon capture, but that policymakers “must also consider the importance of adequate, affordable and reliable energy to meet growing global needs,” said Christina Noel, a spokesperson for the institute.
While the next decade is almost certain to be hotter, scientists said the main takeaway from the report should be that nations still have enormous influence over the climate for the rest of the century.
The report “is quite clear that whatever future we end up with is within our control,” said Piers Forster, a climate scientist at the University of Leeds who helped write one of the panel’s earlier reports. “It is up to humanity,” he added, “to determine what we end up with.”
Brad Plumer is a climate reporter specializing in policy and technology efforts to cut carbon dioxide emissions. At The Times, he has also covered international climate talks and the changing energy landscape in the United States. @bradplumer