Midwest Memo: UAW Steps In On Right To Work, Recall News And Chicago’s Birthday

A new angle The head of the UAW says the union will try to get voters to approve an amendment to the Michigan constitution to ban Right to Work legislation. Right to Work bans employers from agreeing to mandatory union membership for their workers.

Taking them to task A new task force is declaring war on corruption in Detroit, according to the Detroit Free Press.  An FBI official says corruption in the city is “generational, systematic, part of the culture.”

Total recall Wisconsin election officials say recall votes will have to wait until at least June.

Some gain, still pain Illinois added jobs again last month, proof that the state is recovering – but at a “painfully slow rate,” according to the Chicago Tribune.

Hold the confetti CNNMoney takes a look at manufacturing in Ohio, and says the “good times are back (sort of).”

Movies move on Interest in Michigan as a movie-making destination continues to drop. The state dramatically cut back its film incentives last year.

Happy Birthday Chicago turns 175 years old on Sunday!

Midwest Memo: High Tech High Schools, Jet Jobs And Right To Work In Court

New high (tech) schools Five giants of the tech world are teaming up to open six new high schools in Chicago. Students at the high schools will stay for six years, and leave with an associates degree in a high tech field.

Jet jobs Michigan Governor Rick Snyder says the state could lose 600 jobs if the Air Force moves its A-10 fighter planes away from the Selfridge Air National Guard base.

Signature move Opponents of Michigan’s emergency manager law say they have enough signatures to put the issue on the ballot, and let voters decide whether the law should stand. Partner station Michigan Radio reports the signatures will be turned in today for certification.

Mine on the mind Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker is hitting the road to help promote a controversial mining bill. The bill would open up a new mine in northern Wisconsin. The bill passed the state Assembly, but it now appears to be headed for a close vote in the Senate.

Right to Work in court Opponents of Indiana’s new Right to Work law will get their day in court. Attempts to overturn Right to Work have failed in other states. But activists say Indiana’s law was passed in a hastily, and it contains provisions not found in other Right to Work laws. Both sides will make their case at a preliminary hearing on Monday.

Drilling down into the numbers A new study says shale gas and oil will add $5 billion to Ohio’s economy over the next two years. The Cleveland Plain Dealer reports the study was commissioned by the Ohio Chamber of Commerce, on behalf of the Ohio Shale coalition. The study predicts the boom in shale drilling will happen about 10 times faster than previous studies predicted.

Midwest Memo: High Speed Ohio, Bailout Opinions And Gov. Walker’s Decision

Manufacturing promises Reuters asks economists whether the new political focus on manufacturing will actually create jobs. The answer is, basically, no.

Driving downloads The state of Ohio is spending $10 million to increase its broadband internet speeds tenfold between colleges and universities.

It’s over After 13 weeks, the Cooper Tire lockout in Findlay Ohio is finally over. The Toledo Blade reports that workers approved a new five-year contract yesterday. They could be back in the plant later this week.

Split opinions Yesterday, we asked “Who gets credit for the bailout?“ Meanwhile, the BBC looked into why opinions of the auto industry bailout are split, even in Michigan.

Want to become a landlord? The federal government has a new plan to auction off foreclosed homes owned by Fannie Mae and turn them into rental homes. Chicago is one of the first cities where it will happen.

Ready for a recall Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker has decided not to challenge any of the 1 million recall signatures filed against him. That means the recall election will almost certainly move forward.

Something fishy The US Supreme Court once again declined to weigh in on the debate over what to do about Asian Carp. Partner station WBEZ has the story.

UAW speech President Obama will give a speech to UAW members at a conference in Washington this morning. The event starts at 11:45, and you can watch it live here.

Big day There’s something going on in Michigan today. What was it? Maybe Michigan Radio can help.

Are Midwest Governors Backing Down On Right to Work?

Last month, Changing Gears’ Niala Boodhoo took a look at Wisconsin, a year after Republican Gov. Scott Walker won legislation that strips most public employees of their bargaining rights.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker

Now, The Atlantic Monthly is weighing in with its own take on Walker, and it had a tidbit that caught our eye. Staff writer Molly Ball asked Walker if he supported a Right to Work law, like the one that recently passed the Indiana legislature.

Walker replied, “Not oppose it, it’s just not something we’re pursuing right now.” He went on, “It’s not something I’m pursuing right now, nor have any plan of pursuing.”

That sounds almost word for word what Michigan’s Republican governor, Rick Snyder, says about a Right to Work law, which would prevent unions from collecting mandatory dues when employees decline to join. Continue reading “Are Midwest Governors Backing Down On Right to Work?”

The Next Phase In Protests: Get Ready For The 99% Spring

UAW President Bob King referred last week to a “new movement for social justice” this spring, and now we know what he’s talking about. The UAW’s Facebook page on Thursday features a big photo promoting the 99% Spring, sending its readers to a new Web site called The99Spring.com.

The 99% Spring Protest Movement Gets Organized

The site speaks directly to the protests that took place in Wisconsin over Gov. Scott Walker’s push to eliminate collective bargaining rights for public employees. There’s a letter from its organizers, who include King, as well as a variety of union, political and other groups.

Declares the site, “In the tradition of our forefathers and foremothers and inspired by today’s brave heroes in Occupy Wall Street and Madison, Wisconsin, we will prepare ourselves for sustained non-violent direct action.”

From April 9-15, the site says, its supporters will gather across the country — “100,000 strong, in homes, places of worship, campuses and the streets to join together in the work of reclaiming our country.” Continue reading “The Next Phase In Protests: Get Ready For The 99% Spring”

Originally Exempt From State Cuts, Wisconsin Police And Firefighters Now Face Changes Too

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This is the second in a two-part series about what’s changed for public workers in Wisconsin, one year after labor protests gripped the state (part one is here).

Brian Austin is a Madison police detective. When he's not working, he's been active in protests against Gov. Scott Walker (Niala Boodhoo)

The Capitol building in Madison is amazing – anyone can just walk in. And in Madison, people often do just visit, like Brian Austin, who often brings his children here.

Austin is a detective with the City of Madison’s police department. He was also one of the tens of thousands who packed this building in protest when Gov. Walker proposed limiting union rights for public workers. The law – Act 10 – passed anyway. So Austin says when he goes into the building now, he can’t help think of it as a “completely different” building – and he means that in both a positive and a negative way.

His ambivalence is because he says Walker has brought the Wisconsin workers together – even though they’re suffering now.

The Wisconsin state worker’s union estimates that some 22,000 public employees are taking home 13 percent less pay since the law has taken effect. As it was written, public safety workers like police officers were supposed to be exempt.

But now, police and firefighters are finding, they, too, are facing increased pension and health care costs.

Continue reading “Originally Exempt From State Cuts, Wisconsin Police And Firefighters Now Face Changes Too”

A Year After The Uproar, Labor Protests Continue in Wisconsin

The nation was riveted on Madison, Wisconsin last year when tens of thousands of people protested Gov. Scott Walker’s proposal to dismantle most union rights for state and local workers. Walker was successful. Now, a year later, how have those changes made life different in Wisconsin? Changing Gears has been taking a look at the impact state governments have on everyday life, and I take a look at Wisconsin in the first of two reports.

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The Solidarity Sing Along outside the Capitol building in Madison, Wisc. (Niala Boodhoo)

It’s noon, and on the steps of the Capitol building in Madison, Wisconsin, about 100 people are gathered in a circle, singing labor songs like “If I Had a Hammer” and “Solidarity Forever”. They have a conductor, drummer, someone passing out songbooks and even a cymbals player. It’s been dubbed the Solidarity Sing-A-Long.

People wave signs protesting Gov. Scott Walker as they walk. Some signs call for his recall.

Last Valentine’s Day, when the sing-a-long began, thousands of workers were protesting at the Capitol. They were trying to get legislators to stop Walker’s proposal to take away collective bargaining rights for state workers.

Wisconsin was one of the first states in the country to allow its public workers to unionize. Dues were taken right out of their paychecks, and they were represented by unions that bargained over wages, pensions and health care contributions. Continue reading “A Year After The Uproar, Labor Protests Continue in Wisconsin”

4 Things $100 Million Could Buy The Midwest (Besides Political Ads in Wisconsin)

Talking Points Memo, an influential political blog, is estimating that as much as $100 million could be spent on the recall fight involving Wisconsin Republican Gov. Scott Walker.

$100 million and this turkey is yours

It quotes analysts saying spending could be two or three times the $44 million that candidates and their supporters spent during state Senate recall races last year. Walker, at least, is getting ready for a pitched battle. He raised $4.5 million in just over a month, and has more than $2 million on hand, according to TPM.

But, given the state of our economy, that got us thinking: what else could $100 million pay for in the Midwest? We found all kinds of things that carry that price tag. Continue reading “4 Things $100 Million Could Buy The Midwest (Besides Political Ads in Wisconsin)”

The States Of Our States

So far, three Midwesterner governors have delivered their state of the state addresses. The image above is a word cloud created from the prepared texts of the speeches in Indiana, Michigan and Wisconsin. As usual, the speeches offer optimistic visions of what each governor has accomplished in the past year, and what they’re capable of accomplishing this year. We’ll be tracking what the rest of the Midwest governors say in their speeches. And, as we parse through what’s been said and unsaid in the speeches so far, we want to know: What do you think of your governor’s speech? Were you surprised by anything, or did it all sound like what you’ve heard before? Let us know in the comments.

Midwest Memo: Big Profits For Ford, Heading Down The Rabbit Hole In Wisconsin

Party like it’s 1998 Ford is reporting its highest annual earnings in over a decade. The Wall Street Journal says the auto industry’s profits are part of its new math: sell fewer cars, make more money (subscription required).

Curiouser and curiouser Keeping track of Wisconsin politics gets more complicated by the day. While the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board is still busy counting recall petitions against Gov. Scott Walker, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that two of the governor’s former aids have been charged with illegal campaigning. The charges are part of an ongoing “John Doe” investigation of Walker’s staff during his time in county government. Despite the investigation and the recall threat, Walker’s poll numbers are rising.

Meanwhile, in actual economic news, the Wisconsin Assembly voted to ease the way for a proposed Iron ore mine in the state’s northern region. Republicans say it will create jobs. Democrats say the changes could lead to environmental harm.

190 Acres of transformation In Cuyahoga County, Ohio, a 190-acre industrial site represents, in microcosm, the changes facing the Midwest. Officials in the town of Beachwood are hoping to rezone the property as the industrial sector declines and other sectors grow. Officials say they want to see the property used for health care, retail and residential investment.

Obama talks higher ed President Obama will be in Ann Arbor, Mich. today to talk about his ideas for higher education funding.