On Monday, I attended two Labor Day parades that were starkly different from each other. The first was the Detroit Labor Day Parade. I was impressed by the sheer numbers of union members from all over the state, representing unions large and small, from the SEIU to Hamtramck’s teachers. What was disappointing and saddening was the near absence of spectators.
It’s certainly not because people don’t like parades. In contrast, I attended Franklin’s Labor Day Parade, and although it’s a much smaller community than Detroit, the sidelines were full of cheering spectators. Local politicians and groups drove and walked down the street tossing candy, and while there were cheers as the local fire department drove down the route, they were the only union represented aside from the local police department helping keep the roads clear.
I went to Franklin’s parade to meet up with my good friend Marla, who I’ve known for over 20-years, grew up here and lives in Chicago. Her mom still lives here and she visits with her kids and siblings often. She didn’t move out of Michigan because she hates the state or didn’t want to raise her children here, she moved because she and her husband who had his Green Card at the time couldn’t find good-paying jobs in their fields.
We used to cheer on our unions in Michigan. My dad to this day still won’t purchase the Detroit News because of their use of scab workers, and unions are why we have a minimum wage and job safety standards. Yes, we are now a “right-to-work” state, which needs to be changed, but part of why that even occurred was due to the weakening of our unions before that.
So, Michigan, how do we start supporting our unions again? Give me your thoughts, truly and as bluntly as you’d like. The only way we can ensure a full, strong economy in the future and of the future is with strengthened union power. Are you someone who stopped supporting unions? Why? What needs to be changed within unions themselves? Are you someone who supports unions and has ideas on how to bring them back?
Leave your comments below. We can make it happen. Let’s save our state together.
Some photos from Detroit's Parade
Beverly Kindle-Walker candidate for Detroit City Council Photo by Jennifer V Kurland
& Stephen Young candidate for the 12th U.S. House District
with Jennifer. Photo by Frank Hammer
Jennifer with Lou Novak. Photo by Lou Novak
Some photos from Franklin's parade
Jennifer with Marla Feingold-Nachom. Photo by Jennifer V Kurland