The Building Tradesman Newspaper

Friday, March 14, 2014

At the Michigan Building and Construction Trades Council Legislative Conference

By The Building Tradesman



They said it: time to ‘set an agenda for working people’

LANSING – Here are a few choice comments made to delegates at the Michigan Building and Construction Trades Council’s Legislative Conference:

State House Democratic Leader Tim Greimel (D-Auburn Hills) - “We’ve seen an unprecedented assault on working people in this state, which is most pronounced with the attacks on organized labor. A new law to take away project labor agreements. The so-called right-to-work law. As if that’s not enough, they’re still talking about repealing prevailing wage. There are people in this state whose idea of economic success is to drive down wages.

“The real reason they’re doing this is they want to pad corporate profits for their friends. We need to change the debate in the House by voting in a Democratic majority in November . The attacks aren’t going to stop until the Republicans stop controlling all levers of power in the state government.”

Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmen (D-East Lansing) - “As working people it is critical that you make noise. The GOP disparagingly calls me the mouthpiece of the unions. My response is hell yes I’m the mouthpiece of the unions and working people.

“They call me the minority leader in the Senate. For anyone who thinks Democrats are in the minority in Michigan, Obama won Michigan, Stabenow won Michigan. If not for gerrymandering of districts, we would have Tim Griemel as speaker of the House.

“There’s a lot of work ahead. Democrats have a path to re-take the House and Senate. It may take two years, but we have a path. With a majority vote in the House and Senate we can start to set an agenda for working people.”

 

State Rep. Sam Singh, (D-East Lansing) - On the lack of traction for improving road and bridge funding: “We’re at a pivotal time in our state’s economy. We’re not making that investment in infrastructure. We all know there’s a great need for investment. I applaud the governor, he wants to make a $1.2 billion investment in infrastructure. It should be closer $1.8 billion, but at least it’s a start. You have to put us in check, you have to put our feet to the fire and ask us to invest in Michigan.”

 

State Sen. Tom Casperson, (R-Escanaba) - On the proposals to increase investment in mining and other developments in the Upper Peninsula. “On the manufacturing side and on the natural resources side, we need places to build side by side. It’s about manufacturing, jobs. Don’t tell me no, tell me how we get there. There are many opportunities for the trades. We just have to clear the way for the jobs providers.”

 

State Rep. David Knezek (D-Dearborn Hts.) - The governor gave all that money as a tax break to corporations at the expense of pensions. Senior citizens shouldn’t have to live out their golden years by choosing between buying medicine or food. The governor took us from providing 26 week of unemployment insurance to 20 weeks. It’s simple economics, that hurts people. He signed that law and you heard Gov. Snyder lie and say right to work is not on his agenda.

“Well, repealing right-to-work is on my agenda. repealing the pension tax is on my agenda. Protecting project labor agreements and your right to collective bargaining, those are on my agenda.”

 

Peter Lark, general manager, Lansing Board of Water and Light, on the work of the building trades in erecting the utility’s new $182 million powerhouse: “The project was built on time and on budget, and that’s no small accomplishment. You did an amazing amount of work for us, our first generation plant in 40 years, and the first of any kind in Michigan in 25 years. I have enjoyed working with you, and we couldn’t have done it without you.”