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Lansing Labor News
Established 1945
January 16, 2019
Archived articles by Gerald Kariem
Print Icon Dec 08, 2015

December 2016 holiday greeting

Whether you celebrate with ceremony or solitude, sing carols at the top of your lungs or smile silently at the sound of sleigh bells, receive a thousand kisses under the mistletoe or hold only one small, mittened hand, your Region 1D family wishes you peace, love and joy this holiday season.
Gerald Kariem, Director

September 2016: Our choice matters

As we move into the final days of this election cycle, I would first hope we would all keep Vice President Cindy Estrada and her family in our prayers for the loss of her husband Frank White.
We as the UAW have endorsed Hillary Clinton for President of the United States. The endorsement process has the candidates coming in for an interview. Some of the issues we base our decision on are:
• Trade/ Labor Rights
• Manufacturing
• Middle Class Economic Policies
• Social Security
• Voting Rights
• Social Justice
So it is safe to say we look at all issues pertaining to workers and how it affects our members  and retirees, and our families. When it comes to the process, we don’t take it for granted. Hillary Clinton stands close to all of our positions vs. what Donald Trump stands for.
As we move forward to the November 8 Election Day, we have members not sure who to vote for. Let me remind you what he said about auto workers. He said that auto workers make too much money. And that we need to send their jobs to low wage states looking for work. Leave them there for a few years and then bring the work back. Then they would work for lower wages.
He also stated he supports Right to Work laws because it’s better for the people. He is talking about our members, and not just unions but working families. Why would anyone vote against their pocketbook, their families and their union?
Look we are not perfect, but we fight for you. I ask you to review the candidates’ positions on all that is important to you and your family. I’m sure we all have regrets of things we did or didn’t do we probably wish we could take back. Regrets versus responsibilities. Don’t sit on the sidelines because you are uncertain. Your vote does matter.
The UAW and its members (you) expect us to Be Better, Do Better and we can only do that by having support in the White House to help keep us strong. Help keep you and your family comfortable.
Please support all UAW-endorsed candidates.
I ask you to:

May 2016: Let's ask "What if?

We lost a good FRIEND, GREAT DIRECTOR and HUMAN BEING in Donald G Oetman, past Director of Region 1D. He enjoyed his family, his friends and the UAW. As Walter Reuther once said “ There is no greater calling than to have served your fellow man but there is no better feeling to know that you have done it well.” Please keep Don’s family in your prayers. I will miss him.
As we move closer to the national political conventions for both parties, one thing is certain: one person will come out of each convention as their party’s nominee. Regardless of where you were with your personal candidate selection, we all move forward to the general election on Tuesday, November 8, 2016.
And we ask the question “What if?”
What if we all came out of the convention in July in full force and agreement that the Democratic candidate is our nominee for the President of the United States?
What if we gave them the support of a Congress that was willing to work with the President to move this country forward instead of being a roadblock for a prosperous nation? And what if we voted here in Michigan to take back the House of Representatives to level the playing field instead of it being a one-sided decision making process?
Just imagine how we could change some things that affected seniors, children, women’s issues, drinking water standards, workers rights, voters rights, civil rights, public education, health insurance, veterans issues—the list goes on and on. What would that look like?
We have a chance to make it happen. Improve the lives of others while helping our own families and co-workers.
Realistically, we have 33 percent that don’t feel that way. They believe that voting Republican is the way to go for them and their family. Unfortunately, they don’t believe unions should exist, that the employer will take care of me when I’m down. Good luck. Some like the atmosphere of a Trump candidacy. I don’t understand that.
I believe we have an educated work force that understands what we as Labor have done to open up opportunities and quality of life standards for them to provide for their own.
We have a rich history of being our brothers’ and sisters’ keeper as was Don Oetman. Don was always on the front lines with his members fighting the fight. I would hope that in these coming months that we would all volunteer some time to continue to keep this union strong and supporting its Labor-friendly candidates.

January 2016: Are you upset yet, Michigan?
You should be!

“The ultimate measure of a man is not wherewhere he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
I would like take a moment of silence for those who have passed on to the union halls in the sky. If not for their dedication and devotion during times of challenge and controversy, our Union would not be the Union we are today. And for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., a man who was devoutly passionate in making a difference for the causes of civil, human, and economic rights for all God’s children, I thank you!
As we approach February 11, “White Shirt Day,” let us celebrate those who took on the largest and richest company in the world, those who were willing to put their own lives and jobs on the line. Those who wanted to make a difference for all workers and future generations, those we call the “Sitdowners.” From the bottom of my heart, I thank you!
In regards to making a difference and changing the course of Michigan, the current Republican leadership has failed in supporting all working families of Michigan. Since his election in 2010, the Snyder Administration and fellow Republicans have not been held responsible for their actions. They have continuously failed the citizens of Michigan!
In 2011, just 143 days after taking office, the first stroke of business was to pass the elimination of the Single Business Tax, claiming it would open the floodgates for job growth. In actuality, it limited job growth, taxed pensions and other retiree income, eliminated the Homestead Property Tax Credit and reduced the Earned Income Tax Credit. Essentially, taking from the poor and giving to the rich.
December 11, 2012, twenty thousand people rallied at the Michigan Capitol to protest against Right to Work legislation. I remember this day well. We filled the Capitol, the lawn and the streets. When we went outside of the Capitol building for a break, they locked the doors and the House voted on Right to Work. They locked us out of our Capitol claiming there was a fire code concern and with empty halls and a clear rotunda, they voted 58 to 51 to pass Right to Work. This had nothing to do with job growth or economics; this was a pure political attack on working families. Throughout the day the Romney building remained surrounded by state police in riot gear. Finally, like a thief in the dark of the night, after many of the protestors left, Governor Rick Snyder signed the legislation into law.
Right to Work was supported by the likes of the Koch Brothers, Dick DeVos, American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and Americans for Prosperity. There are witnesses from legislators stating they had to vote in support of the legislation or risk opposition in the next election cycle. Senator Rick Jones of the 24th District was one of those threatened. This is a prime example of how money holds great power and influence in politics.
Once Michigan became Right to Work, the next order of business was to find ways to suppress voters. In May of 2012, Amendments to SB 751 and SB 754 were introduced. These amendments essentially targeted registration drives regarding voter ID laws and allow for purging of voter lists in efforts to challenge voters who haven’t voted in the past six years, assuming those voters either no longer resided at the residence or were possibly dead. Although this version was vetoed they are coming back with other bills.
SB 571 currently helps educate voters on municipal and educational bonds and proposals 60 days before elections. Republicans do not want voters educated so they amended the bill to prohibit use of funds or resources for communications in regards to local ballot questions and eliminated our right to a V-CAP program to support those who support us. But here is the icing on the cake, this amendment allows for candidate committees to use contributions not designated for a specific election cycle to pay outstanding debts from past cycles regardless if those funds place the candidate over their contribution limits for the past cycle. Isn’t that interesting?
Are you upset yet?
Guess what, they are not done. On December 2015, SB 13, Straight Ticket Voting was introduced. Governor Snyder stated, “It’s time to choose people over politics.” The Republican legislature feels voters need to get educated on who the candidates are; all the while, Michigan County Clerks oppose SB 13 stating it will create longer lines at the polls and increases in spoiled ballots.
And you have heard about the Flint crisis with lead levels in the water that are affecting children, babies, seniors, our members who reside in the city of Flint. As a parent I would be beside myself with the damage and concerns these would have on my family now and in the future. This governor turned his back to the essential rights of safe clean water. And we are surrounded by the Great Lakes.
The attacks are endless. Women’s rights, voters’ rights, seniors’/retirees’ rights, workers’ rights; health and safety rights; these are all rights we have fought for and struggled to maintain throughout the years. We are going backwards my friends, not forward.
There comes a point where we have to make a stand just as those who struggled, sacrificed and fought before us so bravely did.
We cannot continue with the failed policies of Governor Snyder and his Republican puppets, we must stand together in solidarity.
I would like to remind our members of the White Shirt Day program being held Thursday, February 11 at UAW Local 659 at 11:00 a.m.
In closing, Dr. King said it best:
“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”
—Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

December 2015: Stay strong and stand together in 2016

As we move through this Holiday Season I hope you are able to spend time sharing with your family all of the things you are thankful for. For me, I am truly thankful and blessed not only for my growing family and good health but for the great local leadership, members, retirees and staff we have in Region 1D.
I am also thankful for the great job the Capital Area CAP Council and our members here in Lansing did for the Lansing City Council elections. Whether you participated in the mailers, phone banking, door to door or the Labor Walk, I thank you for making our endorsement mean something in the Capitol City. We were 100% successful in Lansing, Fighting for Working Families.
The attacks on unions and the middle class continue to amaze me. The Governor signed into law the Michigan road funding bill. It will shift $600 million from the general fund to road funding, which takes away from education, public safety and social programs for the most vulnerable. It will generate another $600 million in revenue from a 7.3-cent per gallon increase in gas tax and a 20% increase in vehicle registration fees that take effect in January, 2017. The $1.2 billion devoted to road funding will not take effect until the year 2021.
The Michigan Chamber of Commerce is praising the road funding package because corporations and big business do not pick up any of the cost.
With all this happening, I find it interesting the Center for Public Integrity (CPI) gives Michigan an F (Failing grade) in Ethics and Transparency. Michigan ranks 50th out of 50 states. Below is Michigan’s scorecard under Republican control from the CPI:
Electoral Oversight    5th
State Budget Process    8th
Political Financing    32nd
Internal Auditing    32nd
State Civil Service Management    37th
Public Access to Information    42nd
Lobby Disclosure    43rd
Procurement    46th
Ethics Enforcement Agency    47th
Executive Accountability    50th
Legislative Accountability    50th
Judicial Accountability    50th
State Pension Fund    50th
(The Center for Public Integrity is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that does investigations and analyses of public service, government accountability, and ethics related issues.)
And to prove the bad ratings, the Michigan Senate voted on SB13, a bill to eliminate straight ticket voting; a procedure both parties would use to vote for one specific party to eliminate some of the time spent in the polling place. In reality, this bill will create longer time spent at the polls by requiring you to vote for each elected position on the ballot. And they attached a $1 million dollar appropriation to it, which is like an insurance policy against the will of the people to make it referendum proof. Why try and fix something that isn’t broken?
I hope we can all stay strong and stand together in solidarity in 2016, because we have our work cut out for us in this upcoming election year.
On another note, this has been a busy year of representing, supporting and negotiating for our active and retired members. With compassion being the driving force behind our members and committees to help those who need assistance, our CAP programs fundraised and donated money and food to the food banks and community kitchens in our state. We donated Child ID kits to our schools, nonprofits and senior centers. We have given backpacks to those children who may have otherwise gone without.
This Holiday Season remember to enjoy precious time with your loved ones, be compassionate, remain hopeful and joyful knowing that what you do, what I do, and what we do together help shape our destiny and make a difference.

September 2015: What Labor Day is really about

As we move towards the Labor Day Holiday, I think WOW, where has this summer gone?
We are heavy into negotiations, trying to remain strong for our members now that Right-to-Work is law, with GM, Chrysler, Ford, the IPS and State Employees. As we continue into these negotiations, I can’t help but to reflect upon the history of Labor Day.
Labor Day was the creation of the Labor movement, which is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of the American workers. It is a tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity and the well-being of our country.
The vital force of Labor added materially to the highest standards of living and the greatest producers the world has ever seen. Labor Day has been celebrated since 1885 in industrialized
centers around the country and has evolved over the years as Labor grew stronger.
The character of the Labor Day celebration has undergone a change in recent years. Laws have been passed in legislation that are blatant attacks led by extreme ideologies of the Koch Brothers, the DeVos’s, the Mackinac Center and other special interest groups meant to weaken us. They support anti-labor candidates who will go to all extremes to eliminate and or stifle labor. And why are they attacking labor? Simply put, it is to divide and conquer!
The continued attacks have taken their toll not only on all of labor, but our nation as a whole, with opponents of Labor including the Michigan Governor, Attorney General, Supreme Court and both the Michigan and U.S. Congress and U.S. Senate. It is almost like we have a warrant for our arrest, they want us to have no voice and no vote. Who will fight for the middle class, working families, retirees and those less fortunate if we stop? The fastest shrinking class today is the middle class.
With the tiered wage system, we are trying to eliminate what special interest groups would like to keep in place, such as the same elected officials and corporations that do not support a living wage or an increase in minimum wage or labor. They have come at us with a vengeance and collectively, we are still standing and speaking louder!
Labor has given us a voice and the strength to stand up for our values; we cannot afford to give that up! Labor and its affiliates as a whole are continually busy fending off attackers, solidified in SOLIDARITY.
Change can only happen when we stand together as one, so let’s BE READY TO STAND TOGETHER AS ONE!
As mentioned above, over the years Labor Day has grown stronger. Let’s make sure we continue to celebrate this special holiday that recognizes the accomplishments Labor (YOU and I) have given this country. Let’s keep it strong and let’s not forget our V-CAP drives in our work sites so we can prepare for 2016.
While you are with your loved ones on this Labor Day weekend, stand tall and be proud of who you are. You are LABOR! You are the hopes and dreams your ancestors came to this country for; let’s continue to build those opportunities for generations to come.
Happy Labor Day, this three-day weekend literally brought to you by Labor.
God Bless you, your family and LABOR.

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