LABOR VOICES

Elect legislators who fight for working people

Ron Bieber

Republicans have had total control over the Michigan Legislature for six years.

And in that time, Gov. Rick Snyder and the Republican legislature have passed one law after another to manipulate the rules and rig the economy to favor their corporate campaign contributors.

Meanwhile, Michigan’s working families are still struggling to get by.

Their first act was to hand out nearly $2 billion in tax breaks to corporations, while raising taxes on seniors and working families. They cut billions in funding from our local schools and gave it to for-profit charter and cyber schools that are totally unaccountable to taxpayers, and failing to educate our kids.

But they didn’t stop there.

Last fall, Republicans passed a roads package that raises taxes and fees on working people, and makes it more expensive to own a car. Even worse, the legislation didn’t require corporations to pay their fair share. Their plan has been a total failure — it didn’t create the jobs they promised, and our crumbling roads are more dangerous than ever.

To top it off, Republicans in the legislature spent $134 million of our hard-earned taxpayer dollars to buy a lavish and unnecessary new office building for themselves from one of their largest campaign donors. Now the Lansing assessor says they drastically overpaid, and the cost could spiral even higher.

So after six years of control in Lansing, Republicans may have improved the economy for big corporations, but they’ve certainly made it worse for regular Michigan families.

Fortunately, on Nov. 8, there’s something we can do about it. That’s when all 110 seats in the Michigan House of Representatives will be on the ballot.

As voters, this is our chance to elect a legislature that actually works for working people.

More importantly, this is our chance to change the rules in Lansing, and build an economy that works for everyone, not just those at the top.

We can start by making corporations pay their fair share, and ending tax breaks for companies that ship Michigan jobs overseas to countries like China and Mexico.

We can enact real solutions to fix our roads now and create good-paying construction jobs in the process, without forcing regular families to shoulder the burden alone.

We can boost and protect the wages of skilled workers, because people should get paid for the work they do, and earn enough to sustain a family.

We can ensure women earn equal pay for equal work, and provide paid family leave time so we can care for our loved ones when they get sick.

We can set our kids up for a bright future by investing in public education and making college affordable for working families, because it’s the best way to build a high-skill workforce that can compete for good-paying jobs.

We can do all of these things and so much more, but only if we take the time to ask the candidates tough questions now, so we can make informed choices on November 8.

Simply voting in the race for president isn’t enough. There’s too much at stake for working families this year to sit out these important down-ballot races. If we want to change the rules in Lansing, working people need to choose legislators who will make the rules work for us.

Labor Voices

Labor Voices columns are written on a rotating basis by United Auto Workers President Dennis Williams, Teamsters President James Hoffa, Michigan AFL-CIO President Ron Bieber and Michigan Education Association President Steven Cook.