By Ken Papenhagen II
Another election cycle is just around the corner. The parties will take their positions and face off against each other to win the majority in our government. People will head to the polls in November to choose their leaders. It will be the first time we here in Michigan will elect a governor in this century. Many members of this state's legislature will be term limited out of their seats. The new legislature will have many new issues to address. Most of these issues will have a direct influence on how we live and make a living. These are the reasons why our union must prepare itself to support those candidates who will support us with all we have.
The U.A.W. has announced that it has endorsed David Bonior for governor. David Bonior is currently a member of the United States House of Representatives. He represents Michigan's 10th U.S. House District and is the Minority Whip of the House. Congressman Bonior has proven himself to be a friend of labor. During the 2000 session of Congress he sided with the U.A.W. on such issues as our opposition to granting China permanent Normal Trade Relations and supported the issues of prevailing wage protections and increasing the minimum wage. As governor, David Bonior will focus on improving public schools, protect our Great Lakes, and renewing our neighborhoods. This is what we have to look forward to in the year to come.
The race for governor is in eleven months. Before the election even kicks off we have other issues to deal with. The first is a bill, which was passed in the state Senate and is currently in the House, that would eliminate the "strait party line" option on the election ballots. After the questionable ballets of the 2000 elections one would believe that our government would want to make it easier for voters to cast their ballots. This piece of legislation will not be conducive in meeting that end. It will make lines longer at the polls, which could influence people not to cast their vote. For these reasons and others the U.A.W. has decided to oppose this bill.
The second issue has come up due to the lobbying efforts of the Michigan Chamber of Commerce. This group of businesspeople is lobbying the state government to reinstate the one week waiting period for unemployment benefits for Michigan's workers. They want to make it so that a laid off worker has to be unemployed for one week before they can file for their benefits. In our case, we are only eligible for Sub-pay if we are eligible for unemployment benefits. If the Chamber is successful in their lobbying efforts this would mean that if you are laid off for one week you would not be eligible for unemployment or Sub-pay. This is the reason that the U.A.W. is fighting against such legislation.
The leadership of the U.A.W. cannot wage the war alone. It needs its membership to standup and tell the people in Lansing that we will not stand for such nonsense. Each of us needs to take the time and call or e-mail our representative in Lansing and remind them for whom they work. If they do not want to listen, then we need to work as hard as possible to remove them from office in November. We can replace them with people who will fight for us; day in and day out. People like David Bonior.