Wayne, MI – Since 12 a.m. September 15, over 4000 UAW Local 900 auto workers have been on strike at the Ford Michigan Assembly plant in Wayne, which is located just outside of Detroit. Since the strike was announced, the UAW workers have received much media attention nation-wide, and many Detroit residents are excited about the kind of fight the UAW are leading and the implications a win could have for them. UAW local 900 workers and their supporters were in high spirits and the atmosphere on the ground is electric. There is a 24/7 picket running along a mile stretch in front of the massive assembly plant, with hundreds of picketers spread across several entry gates at any given time.
Warren, Michigan - Sunday afternoon at the Auto Workers (UAW) Region 1 Pavilion in Warren, Michigan, felt a lot like church. Auto workers came together in sweltering heat to rally each other with fiery speeches, cheers, and songs in the first Big 3 contract rally anyone can remember. The contracts with Ford, General Motors (GM), and Stellantis expire September 14. “I’ve been told throughout this thing that we’ve set expectations too high. You’re damn right we have, because our members have high expectations, and record profits deserve record contracts,” said UAW President Shawn Fain at the rally. “As a union, we have to lead the fight for economic justice—not just for ourselves but for the entire working class.”
A growing problem in American classrooms is that teachers don’t resemble the students they teach. Eighty percent of the nation’s 3.8 million public school teachers are white, but over half of their students are Black, Hispanic, Asian, Native American and mixed races. The small slice of Black teachers has actually shrunk slightly over the past decade from 7 percent in 2011–12 to 6 percent in 2020–21, while Black students make up a much larger 15 percent share of the public school student population. A Black teacher can make a positive difference for Black children. Research has shown that Black students are less likely to be suspended and more likely to be placed in gifted classes when they are taught by Black teachers.
In the middle of Amazon’s Prime Day promotional sales rush, 60 warehouse workers walked out for more than three hours at its delivery station in Pontiac, Michigan—bringing the facility to the brink of a total shutdown. A delivery station is the last warehouse an Amazon package passes through before it is loaded into a truck or van en route to the customer. This year’s “Prime Day” shopping bonanza July 11 and 12 set a record for the largest sales day in Amazon’s history. The crush of Prime Day puts even more pressure on workers to keep up with conveyor belts overflowing with boxes that can weigh as much as 50 pounds.
On Sunday, May 21, 2023, at 6:30pm, DPSS police officer John Buehler (#167) approached a graduate student in GEO (AFT Local 3550) at their home. Buehler knocked on the door and the student answered, and the cop proceeded to attempt to intimidate the student as they stood in the doorway. Buehler threatened to file a report with the Washtenaw County prosecutor’s office regarding a previous picket action, advised the student to “reach out to Student Legal Services,” and left his business card. On Monday, May 22, 2023, at 10:00am, another graduate student with GEO received an email from the same cop, John Buehler, making similar demands of this student.
Graduate student workers at the University of Michigan have been winning a series of small skirmishes in their strike against the huge billionaire institution. But the university administration has shown the darker side of their corporate-style approach to negotiating with their own students, turning increasingly to violence in the face of community support for strikers. The strike, which began on March 29, came after several months of negotiations, and were often stalled by administration in moves to limit the format of bargaining meetings. When the roughly 2,400 graduate student workers overwhelmingly voted in favor of the strike, the administration immediately filed for an injunction against the Graduate Employee Organization (GEO) chapter representing grad workers.
For the second time in three years, University of Michigan graduate students are on strike, fighting for a starting wage of $38,000 per year to meet the soaring costs of living in Ann Arbor. These demands come as the University’s endowment continues to balloon, surpassing $17 billion as of last year. Graduate students are also asking for gender-affirming healthcare options, better workplace protections against sexual harassment, and an approach to campus safety that doesn’t depend solely on a militarized police force. After raising similar issues three years ago, the Graduate Employee Organization (GEO) ended the strike when the U of M administration threatened legal action that could disband the union, lead to job losses, and subject leadership to arrest.
The scene at the Michigan Capitol in Lansing March 14 was reminiscent of mass protests there in December 2012. At that time union members packed the State House to pressure then-Governor Rick Snyder not to sign a bill making Michigan a “right-to-work” state. But Snyder broke his campaign promise not to sign, making Michigan the 27th state with the union-busting law on the books. While a union in a workplace is legally required to represent members and nonmembers alike, in a right-to-work state the union cannot negotiate a contract that makes union dues or service fees mandatory. This weakens unions and lowers the average wage in what have for decades been nicknamed “right-to-work-for-less” states.
Across the U.S., a staggering 55% of teachers are thinking about leaving their profession earlier than they had planned, according to a National Education Association survey. Those who go through with the change would join the roughly 600,000 teachers who, per U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data, left the job between 2020 and 2022 — and the impacts on kids are dire. To fill the gaps created by the teacher shortage, classroom sizes swell, courses are canceled, and unqualified educators are brought on to fill open positions. One school district in Michigan has seen success with an innovative solution to help recruit and retain educators: Helping cover their rent and housing costs.
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.
Michigan - Nestled near the headwaters of the Au Sable River in Northern Lower Michigan, in lands forcibly taken from the Odawa and Ojibwa, the Michigan Army National Guard (MIANG) currently operates the largest National Guard training site in the country, Camp Grayling. At 230 square miles, it could fit Detroit (139 sq. miles), Lansing (37 sq. miles), and Grand Rapids (45 sq. miles) safely within its footprint. In addition to the Army and National Guard, the area is used by police departments, prisons, private military contractors, and foreign military units. In January of 2022, the National Guard proposed expanding its Land Use Agreement with the state by a staggering 250 square miles, bringing its size to 490 square miles, or about twice the size of Chicago. This is happening at the same time the Air National Guard is seeking separately to expand operations over Northern Michigan and Lake Huron, likely in concert with the proposed expansion of Camp Grayling.
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.
In the spring of 2021, as the national COVID-19 vaccine rollout promised to lift the burden of overwhelmed hospitals, nurses at the University of Michigan were working harder than ever. Understaffing has been a problem for University of Michigan nurses since the 1980s, but it worsened during the pandemic, as patient surges met with hospital-wide cost containment measures that further thinned staff and resources. Over the first year of the pandemic, University of Michigan nurses filled gaps in staffing mainly by volunteering for overtime. As elective procedures resumed, management turned to mandatory overtime — a mechanism written into the union’s 2018 contract as an emergency measure — to staff the hospital. If a unit was short-staffed, supervisors called off-duty nurses.
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.
Lansing, Michigan - A Chipotle restaurant in Lansing, Mich., voted Thursday to unionize, making it the first of the chain's nearly 3,000 locations to do so. The employees are seeking improved schedules and higher wages, and first filed for a union election July 5. "Today's victory is an amazing moment for our team that has worked so hard and spent many months organizing," said Samantha Smith, 18, a crew member who has worked at the location for over two years. "We set out to show that our generation can make substantial change in this world and improve our working conditions by taking action collectively. Employees at the location first filed for a union election July 5. They are being backed by the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, a union with 1.2 million members across professions such as warehouse workers, pilots, public defenders and more.