Midwest Memo: GE Jobs, Nobel Laureates, Obama Campaign, CG Events

GE Adds Jobs, Faces Protestors: General Electric said Tuesday it is adding 300 jobs in Van Buren Township, Mich., at an advanced engineering center that it announced in 2009. That’s on top of 850 jobs for which the company is still hiring. But GE chief executive Jeffrey Immelt faced protests at a meeting of the Society of Automotive Engineers in Detroit. Members of the 99% Spring movement are planning to protest Immelt’s pay and other issues at GE’s annual shareholders meeting, which will be held in Detroit on Wednesday. Read our coverage of the 99% Spring here

Nobel Laureates In Chicago: Former presidents, activists and actors are in Chicago for a three day meeting of the world’s Nobel Laureates. It’s one of the high-profile efforts by Mayor Rahm Emanuel to stake Chicago’s claim as a world-class city. On Monday, students in a Chicago classroom got a visit from former Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev, one of many visits paid by the laureates to Chicago schools.

Obama Campaign Blankets Ohio: The president was just at Lorain County Community College in Elyria, Ohio last week, talking about job retraining. Now, Barack Obama’s campaign plans to blanket the state in coming weeks, with the auto bailout as a main topic. Bob King, president of the United Auto Workers, says the number of auto workers in Ohio has increased from 105,000 to 120,000 since the administration rescued General Motors and Chrysler. However, Ohio’s biggest automotive employer is Honda, which has announced a series of new investments in the state.

Changing Gears Live Tomorrow: Make sure to mark your calendars tomorrow for a Changing Gears live call-in show and chat. It’s at 3 pm ET/2 pm CT. Read more here.

Spring Has Sprung; 99% Spring Events Are Coming

Earlier this year, we told you about The 99% Spring, the protest movement sponsored by a variety of political and labor groups including MoveOn.org, the United Auto Workers and the Teamsters Union.

It’s part of a fresh wave of protests that are taking place across the country, in the wake of the Occupy movement.

The 99% Spring Protest Movement Gets Organized

Starting next week, 99% Spring events will be kicking off across the United States, and especially in the Midwest.

Supporters are vowing to train 100,000 people to “to tell the story of what happened to our economy, learn the history of non-violent direct action, and use that knowledge to take action on our own campaigns to win change.”

Over the weekend, the UAW sent an email to its members, encouraging them to take part. “We are at a crucial point in America where if we continue to ignore the opportunity to rebuild this great country, then we risk losing the very essence of what has made this country great,” the email said.  Continue reading “Spring Has Sprung; 99% Spring Events Are Coming”

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!

Don’t Call It A Comeback: Protest Movements Get Ready For A New Push

A scene from southern California this afternoon, as police tried to remove Occupy protesters from the street outside a Wal-Mart distribution center.

Today, the Occupy Wall Street movement started a fresh wave of protest activity across the country. Its the first major action from the group in weeks. Organizers are hoping it won’t be the last. Today’s protests are relatively small, compared to what we saw over the summer. But other events are in the works.

Salon reports today that Occupy organizers are looking into a possible “general strike” on May 1st. If the group pulls it off, Salon says it would be the first general strike in this country in 65 years.

And the 99% Spring movement we told you about earlier this month is also gearing up. The group is planning demonstrations nationwide from April 9-15. They’re hoping to get 100,000 people to participate. Today, the call went out for people to help train the protesters. Last week, the conservative web site The Daily Caller reported that the UAW was behind the training plan. The official 99% Spring website lists a number of union participants, along with liberal groups such as MoveOn.org.

Midwest Memo: Budget Cuts In Illinois, Surprising Home Sales And The UAW Plans Protests

Budget cuts Illinois Governor Pat Quinn outlined plans yesterday to cut the state’s pension costs and Medicaid programs. Partner station WBEZ Chicago says Quinn also plans to close two prisons and consolidate dozens of state offices.

Teacher teacher The Wall Street Journal looks at a shakeup for poor performing schools in Chicago, and sees a trend. More Democratic mayors are challenging teacher unions.

Clean energy ballot push Partner station WCPN Ideastream Cleveland reports there’s a new ballot initiative underway that would let voters choose whether the state should borrow billions to invest in clean energy. Turns out, environmentalists have nothing to do with the ballot initiative.

Surprise! It sold A busy real estate market is surprising some sellers in Northeast Ohio. Home sales were up more than 25 percent for the region in January, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

UAW protest plans The conservative web site, The Daily Caller, says it’s found evidence that the UAW plans to train 100,000 people for “The 99% Spring” protest movement. The Detroit News has a story. Changing Gears has discussed the UAW’s connection to the movement before.

Going private Proposals in Michigan would open the door to privately-run prisons.

Windy city The city of Milwaukee’s wind turbine is officially up!

Midwest Memo: The Profit-Sharing Effect, Sears Layoffs And Chrysler Turns Down A Loan

Profit sharing bump GM reported a record profit yesterday, which means UAW members at GM will get a record profit-sharing bonus. Bloomberg News says union workers at all three Detroit carmakers are eligible for bonuses this year, and that could give the Midwest economy a lift.

Hospital expansion The leader of Henry Ford Health Systems in Detroit is considering a $175 million expansion to its resort-like hospital in the suburb of West Bloomfield.

Nice way to repay Sears laid off 100 employees in its Chicago headquarters this week. It’s been two months since the state approved a $150 million tax incentive to keep the company in Illinois.

Unseasonably warm “Nice” weather isn’t helping Midwest winter tourism businesses.

Brain boom Wright State University plans a $37 million neuroscience research hub.

Cleaning up An environmental advocacy group says Ohio making progress on clean energy, but it has some harsh words for one of the state’s utility companies.

Medicuts The New York Times has a look at how proposed cuts to Medicaid will hurt Illinois

Bowing out Chrysler says it will no longer seek a loan from the federal government to develop hybrid vehicles.

Young and successful The South Bend Tribune sits down with a 29-year-old developer who’s working to revitalize the city.

On 75th Anniversary of Sit-Down Strike, UAW Head Calls for New Protests

Earlier this month, Indiana became the latest state to go right-to-work. That means unions can’t force non-members to pay dues. It was a different story seventy-five years ago. The United Auto Workers was in its infancy, with little power. Then, workers at a Fisher body plant in Flint sat down on the job. After 44 days, the UAW became the official bargaining agent for auto factory workers. Many credit the protest with ushering in an era of strong unions and a better standard of living for workers.

Union workers celebrate the anniversary this week at their annual White Shirt Day. MLive reports 500 people attended the event at Flint’s UAW Local 651 Friday. UAW President Bob King used the occasion to call for new protests and action from his members. Faced with a possible spread of right-to-work legislation to states like Ohio, and what he sees as right-wing Republicans attacking workers’ rights, King said the union will soon train its members to take part in nonviolent, but possibly illegal demonstrations across the nation, according to the Detroit News. No word on whether those protests will involve sitting down on the job, like their forbearers in the 1930s.

Continue reading “On 75th Anniversary of Sit-Down Strike, UAW Head Calls for New Protests”

Midwest Memo: Lansing-Area UAW Members Voting On Strike Authorization, Illinois Lawmakers Regroup, Milwaukee Businesses Sharing Office Space

Three stories making news across the Midwest today:

1. Lansing-area Local 602 could authorize strike. Members of UAW Local 602 are voting today and tomorrow on whether to authorize a strike. The union, which represents approximately 3,430 employees at the General Motors assembly plant in Delta Township, Michigan, has failed to reach an agreement on a local contract with plant management. According to the Lansing State Journal, a strike authorization gives union leaders the authority to call a strike, but does not necessarily mean one is imminent. Changing Gears profiled Local 602, one of the three locals that defeated the GM-UAW contract, in September.

2. Illinois lawmakers regroup. Lawmakers will give a second effort to keeping CME Group and Sears in Illinois. After rejecting two bills that would have provided the Chicago-based companies with $250 million in tax incentives last week, they announced the House would hold a special session Monday in hopes of trying again. House members have now raised the prospect of splitting the bill into several pieces of legislation and holding multiple votes, our partner station WBEZ reported. The two companies have threatened to relocate elsewhere in the Midwest if a deal isn’t done by the end of the year. Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn said Ohio offered Sears $400 million in incentives to relocate to Columbus.

3. Milwaukee capitalizes on workspace-sharing trend. A Milwaukee developer is bringing a  West Coast trend of small businesses sharing office space to the Midwest. Soon, William Waldren will open the Hudson Business Lounge, where 180 small-business owners have already signed up to share work space, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “There’s definitely been a pickup in people wanting to do this,” said James Carlson, who runs Bucketworks, another Milwaukee-based shared workspace building. Hudson offers various levels, starting at $55 per month for part-time access to group work tables to a $795 per month package that includes private office space. Across the U.S., 450 to 500 co-working sites exist, according to the newspaper, but most cater to tech people. Walden wants to broaden the appeal to other businesses.

 

GM Contract Includes A Raise for Two-Tiers, Bonuses

UAW President Bob King has followed through on his vow to win a raise for entry level auto workers. Details of the new contract between the union and General Motors, released today, show some of them will be earning nearly $20 an hour by the end of the contract.

The Cleveland Plain Dealer has  a story that includes both the summary sheet of the contract, and the actual contract language.

Workers begin voting on the new four-year contract this weekend. The union will now negotiate deals with Ford and Chrysler. Continue reading “GM Contract Includes A Raise for Two-Tiers, Bonuses”