Sunday, April 03, 2011

Snowy Labor Sunday: April 3, 2011

"The Spirit of Solidarity" monument to the Grand Rapids furniture strikers of 1911.

Snow. It was snowing here this morning. Between the shock of that, and the fried egg assault on my eye (don't ask), this comes a little late today. Here is some of the news I've been saving up, starting with the reason for the picture above...

  • The GR Press takes a look at how 6,000 workers brought the furniture industry to a standstill in this town 100 years ago this month - and how that action, although considered a loss for labor at the time, laid the groundwork for both better working conditions in the furniture factories then, and the future strikes that hit the autoworkers later in the 30s. Very good story, give it a read.

  • On the subject of labor, the Mackinac Center bought itself some negative national attention with their latest labor-busting stunt. From the NY Times:

    The group, the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, declined to explain why it was making the Freedom of Information Act request for material from professors at the University of Michigan, Michigan State and Wayne State University. But several professors who received the records request, which was first reported by Talking Points Memo on Tuesday, said it appeared to be an attempt to intimidate or embarrass professors who are sympathetic to organized labor.

    The action speaks for itself. The Mac Center requested all e-mails mentioning "Scott Walker", "Wisconsin", "Madison". "Maddow", and any other emails dealing with the labor situation in Wisconsin. The silliest part of that was the "Maddow" request, which, of course, prompted Rachel Maddow to run with the story, and point out that the supposedly "small government" GOP is actually behaving like the "big government" authoritarians that they really are. It should be further pointed out that, like the failed anti-union lawsuit against the school districts here in Kent County, they are using taxpayer dollars to further their anti-labor agenda. Now they are claiming they have received bomb threats because of their actions, and who do they turn to? The taxpayer funded police, of course.

    All for me, none for thee, is the Mac motto. We haven't heard the end of this, I'm sure.

  • And on the subject of "authoritarian" government, in response to whispers that teachers in Michigan may choose to go out on strike, lawmakers are proposing new preemptive legislation that will severely punish striking teachers with the loss of their teaching certificate for up to two years. That's the GOP method of "negotiation" in action right there - they get their way on the issue, or you're fired.

  • Another protest in Lansing last week, this time it was hundreds of nurses and nursing students showing up at the Capitol to voice their opinion on Snyder's budget plan. Vendors and local eating establishments must be making a mint down there with all the "tourists" lately. Further protests are scheduled for April, including another big union march on the 13th.

  • A new study sheds light on what is really an old, on-going problem: Michigan currently has 1,437 structurally deficient bridges, and no money to fix them. While MDOT is staying on top of the situation, it's only a matter of time until most of these structures that are 50 years old need to have major repairs done or be replaced. Stimulus money (thank the nice President) is taking care of some of the problem bridges in GR this summer, but Michigan as a state has not addressed transportation infrastructure funding since the gasoline tax was raised in 1997.

  • Some better news: LG Chem is hiring 100 workers for their Holland battery plant in the coming months, and other lakeshore businesses such as JCI Saft (also batteries) and Request Foods are not only hiring themselves, but fueling a resurgence in other area businesses as well. Thank the nice President and the Granholm administration for their efforts there.

  • Not much "green" Michigan news lately, sad to say. One series that has been interesting comes from Zolton Cohen at the K-zoo Gazette, who installed solar panels on his house last year. He crunches the numbers on installation costs and tax credits, and as a former certified home inspector, can provide details that most people don't even think about when considering solar for their home. Take a look.

  • Ahh, spring, and the baby critters start to appear. Big turtles rescued from the K-zoo River oil spill are producing very cute little turtles, and the Gazette has a sweet story on how Enbridge has run what experts believe is the "largest-ever freshwater turtle rescue operation" ever over the winter. Turtles are set to be released back to the river very soon. Pete Hoekstra could not be reached for comment.

    That's all for now... going to crawl back under the covers to hide from this awful weather...