Detroit, Michigan - United Auto Workers (UAW) members voted overwhelmingly, August 25, to grant authorization to call for strikes during ongoing contract negotiations between UAW and General Motors, Ford, and Stellantis motors companies if needed to win their demands in bargaining. Union members voted to authorize the strike by an average of 97% of voters who work for the three companies. UAW President Shawn Fain said, “The Big Three is our strike target. And whether or not there’s a strike - it’s up to Ford, General Motors and Stellantis, because they know what our priorities are. We’ve been clear.” The UAW workers are fighting for a 46% wage increase, restoring their pensions, a 32-hour work week, and increased retiree benefits.
Detroit, Michigan - Billionaire developers in Detroit have proposed capturing almost one billion dollars in public money to fund their newest project. The deal is far from sealed, but organized community opposition will be necessary to prevent approvals from sailing through. In a majority Black and Brown, working-class city experiencing an unprecedented housing crisis, billionaire developers are seeking to siphon public funds that should be used to build public housing and expand community resources to subsidize luxury apartments, hotels, and office space. Community members have spoken out against publicly funding the development scheme but have yet to unite an opposition capable of stopping it or even winning major concessions. A proposed development, to be constructed in the heart of Downtown Detroit, the long-promised but never realized “District Detroit”, is seeking nearly 800 million dollars in public subsidies and tax breaks.
Detroit, Michigan - You may find yourself driving on an EV charging road in the near future. In Detroit, inductive charging technology is being added to two short roads, a project that will be the first wireless electric road system (ERS) in the U.S. The roads will be capable of charging electric vehicles that install a special receiver while they drive. The roadway will be fully functional by 2023. For the project, roads are embedded with coils that transfer magnetic energy to receivers mounted under EVs. That energy is then used to charge the vehicle battery, whether it is stationary or on the go. “We’re the auto capital. We continue to push technology advancements,” said Michele Mueller, a senior project manager at Michigan Department of Transportation, as reported by Fast Company.
Detroit, Michigan - Today, Detroit Will Breathe and individual plaintiffs have accepted a historic offer of judgment extended by the City of Detroit that includes over 1 million dollars — $5,000 awarded directly to the organization, with the remainder divided amongst the plaintiffs. This offer of judgment resolves the case in our favor and means that the federal court will rule that the City of Detroit and the Detroit Police Department violated the constitutional rights of protestors during the George Floyd uprising of 2020. Regardless of what the City might say, this judgment is a victory for the movement. At the start of our lawsuit, we obtained an unprecedented temporary restraining order against DPD. The restraining order prohibited DPD from beating, choking, pepper-spraying, and tear-gassing protestors and was converted into an injunction that lasted over two years.
Detroit, Michigan - Recurring power outages have become a fact of life in Detroit and Southeast Michigan. The most recent mass outage left hundreds of thousands in Metro Detroit without power following a brief windstorm on August 29th. Four days on, tens of thousands were still unable to run their medical devices and prevent their food from spoiling. With outages becoming more severe and more frequent as the climate crisis worsens, profit-driven utilities want to take more out of the pockets of working people struggling to afford their unreliable energy service. Even before the most recent outages, the frustration in Detroit and surrounding areas was palpable. On Monday, August 22, hundreds demonstrated and turned out to a public hearing held by the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) to denounce DTE’s latest exorbitant electricity rate hike amid soaring inflation and perennial outages.
Tristan Taylor, a co-founder of Detroit Will Breathe (DWB) and a Left Voice member, is defending himself in court on Monday, May 23, against felony charges for protesting the murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor in 2020. Taylor is one of the Shelby 5, a group of protestors facing felony charges for demanding that Robert Shellide, the Chief of Police in Shelby Township, Michigan, be fired for posting violently racist remarks about the mass protests. Several additional protestors were charged with misdemeanors. On Taylor’s court date, Monday May 23, Detroit Will Breathe, an organization which was born in the heat of the Black Lives Matter movement, is calling their supporters to mobilize in support of a motion to get the felony charge thrown out.
CPTA begins the memorandum by stating that: “The Coalition for Police Transparency and Accountability (CPTA) requests a federal investigation of a pattern of killings and excessive force by the Detroit Police Department (DPD) and an institutional culture within the department that promotes violence and racial discrimination within the Department and against members of the community. The mission of CPTA is to expose police misconduct in all its forms and thereby demand police transparency and accountability as well as garner community support for this effort. The Coalition was formed after the killing of Hakim Littleton in July 2020 by the Detroit Police Department officers.
A recent debate over the fiscal budget for 2022-2023 for the City of Detroit revealed the political character of the current administration and City Council. The budget was approved for $2.4 billion in a municipality where a majority of the population are African American, working class and impoverished. There were efforts by grassroots community organizations to influence the entire budget process. The Moratorium NOW! Coalition (MNC) in a public letter urged the City Council to include a $1400 “booster” check to retired municipal employees impacted by the more than 8% rate of inflation in the United States. In addition, to the booster campaign for retirees, the MNC in another correspondence to the City Council, demanded that the budget presented by the white corporate-imposed Mayor Mike Duggan be rejected due to its lack of consideration for the 80% African American population in Detroit.
A Wayne County judge on March 29 granted a motion by Treasurer Eric R. Sabree extending the ban on owner-occupied homes being placed in jeopardy of seizure and public auction. This decision came in the aftermath of a campaign by the Moratorium NOW! Coalition (MNC) and other housing groups in the city of Detroit. A resolution was passed on March 29 by the Detroit City Council in favor of an extension after numerous people spoke out at the municipal legislative meeting calling on people to participate in the demonstration the following day at the Wayne County Treasurer’s Office in the Greektown district of Downtown. Although this resolution was passed without opposition, the MNC is calling for a permanent solution to the housing crisis in Detroit and throughout the county.
March 31 has been designated as the deadline for Wayne County residents to pay back property taxes from 2019 and before despite the failure of the relevant authorities to provide adequate assistance to working and impoverished households. For the last two years, Wayne County Treasurer Eric Sabree has not foreclosed on properties due to the COVID-19 pandemic which has had a disproportionate impact on area residents, particularly African Americans who make up approximately 80 percent of the Detroit population. This issue is not a new one in Detroit and Wayne County. Since 2005, there have been tens of thousands of homes and small businesses seized due in part to over assessments which grew out of the mortgage crisis during the first decade of the century.
During the early stages of the pandemic, Michigan’s largest power company leaned in to a chance to show its charitable side, helping buy laptops for Detroit’s public school children and publicizing that it would not disconnect the gas and electric service of people who could not pay their bills. DTE Energy said it was on “high alert to help those customers whose lives are being disrupted.” But the relief from the threat of a shut-off ended quickly for DTE’s customers, who pay some of the highest electricity rates in the country. DTE’s moratorium on disconnections lasted just over three months. An analysis by ProPublica and Outlier Media shows the extent to which one of the nation’s poorest cities and other communities across Southeast Michigan have been impacted by electric service disconnections since the COVID-19 pandemic began.
The killing and shooting of protestors in Portland, Oregon, demanding justice for Amir Locke and Patrick Kimmons, Black men murdered by police, is an outrage that must be condemned. The murder of June Knightly and the shooting of four other women supporting the protest is a byproduct of the acquittal of Kyle Rittenhouse, through which the capitalist state gave a green light to further right-wing vigilantism. The killer, Ben Smith, a known fascist sympathizer, was only named by the Portland Police Bureau after being identified by community members and activists on social media. Our greatest enemy is still the state and its violent agents, the police, who seek to use every opportunity to attack us or let us be attacked by right-wing vigilantes.
Detroit, which remains a major industrial center in the sectors of automotive and other sources of production and services, is a focal point for the economic and social transformations of urban areas in the United States and internationally. Since the 19th century, the city has been a location for various forms of manufacturing, mining and shipping. Initially there was the strategic location linked to the Great Lakes and rivers which flow into them. The mining of copper during the mid-to-late 19th century which fueled migration eventually gave way to steam engine manufacturing for shipping and the timber trade. By the early decades of the 20th century, the first assembly line within auto production was established by Henry Ford. The production of millions of automobiles within a matter of years, created the demand for jobs and the consequent suppression and division of labor.
In the 1950’s and 1960’s, it became a juxtaposition of highly educated workers for the most advanced productive forces on the planet, but developed within the unresolved, deeply violent, four hundred year-long colonial and racist architecture of the US. It was externally influenced by the period of the explosion of national liberation socialism that began with the Chinese revolution and was punctuated by the defeat of the US empire by the Korean and Chinese revolutions and at great costs to their peoples. The 1950s were capped off by the historic 1959 victory in Cuba, whose significance reverberates to this day in all of our lives. Many of the most significant and radical intellectual and revolutionary formations of the US were born between the years 1959 to 1967.
Detroit voters favored launching a reparations commission Tuesday, and a proposal to decriminalize psychedelic plants passed by a wide margin. Another, Proposal S, failed with 53.9% voting no to amending a section of the city charter to allow voters to push ordinances that include appropriating money. More than 80% of voters said yes to Proposal R, which calls for the launching of a reparations commission, while 61% of voters said yes to decriminalizing psychedelic plants. Another ballot proposal to amend the city charter to allow for citizen-driven ballot initiatives tied to city spending, Proposal S found no support among nearly 54% of voters, while 46% voted yes. Proposal R asked whether Michigan’s largest city should form a committee to consider reparations for residents, 77% of whom are Black.