DETROIT – While there has been a lot of discussion in Lansing about creating jobs and supporting Michigan workers, a number of bills have been introduced in the Michigan Legislature that target workers’ rights. State Representative Harvey Santana (D-Detroit) recently talked to workers in Detroit to discuss working conditions and how unions are working to protect jobs.
“Two important issues facing the Michigan Legislature are jobs and union rights.Governor Snyder has said his new budget is all about creating jobs in Michigan,” Santana said. “However, we have seen many bills both introduced and passed that roll back the rights of union workers in our state in an effort to make the state more ‘business friendly’ and ‘competitive.’ And now there’s talk of a proposal to make Michigan a ‘right to work’ state, which would be completely wrong for our workers. I visited one of the largest employers in the area so that I could hear directly from our workers on these issues, and more.”
On Friday, May 20, Santana visited Detroit Diesel on Outer Drive near Plymouth Road. The manufacturing plant makes engines for trucks and other large transportation vehicles, and its 2,600 workers are members of the United Auto Workers.
In 1973, there were more than 12,000 workers employed at Detroit Diesel. Today, the company employs less than 25 percent of that workforce, but they are five times more productive due to technological advances. The unionized workers have sacrificed and worked with the company to keep them profitable and keep jobs in Detroit. For 13 years, workers took no raises so that the company could put all of its money into technology, Santana noted. Today it takes workers more than 10 years to go from a starting wage to the maximum wage.
“These union workers have sacrificed and have helped their company succeed long before it became a buzzword or catchy slogan,” Santana said. “As a State Representative, I want our residents and workers to be assured that I will continue to fight for jobs and to protect the rights of our workers. I will oppose any effort to turn Detroit or any part of Michigan into an anti-union, anti-worker or a ‘right to-work’ zone. Workers have fought for too long and have shed blood to have union rights. I will not be part of an effort to turn the clock back to the bad old days of the 1800s.”