Two Events Opposing EMU Food Service Privatization

Please join Eastern Michigan University staff, faculty, and students for two events next week opposing threatened dining services privatization at EMU:


Show support for EMU’s workers and students facing food service privatization:
When: 11 AM, Tuesday, June 21
Where: outside Welch Hall, Eastern Michigan University, Ypsilanti

Regents’ Meeting

Demand the Board of Regents abandon privatization plans for campus dining services.
When: 1 PM
Where: Room 201, Welch Hall, Eastern Michigan University, Ypsilanti

For directions to Welch Hall, please see this campus map. There is Visitor Parking in the nearby Bowen, McKinney, and Student Center lots, accessible from Oakwood Street. See .

Eclectablog has a good summary of the background to the privatization threat.


U-M Student Labor Coalition Mock Wage Board – Nov 17

Flyer for Mock Wage BoardJoin the U-M Student Labor Coalition for a Mock Wage Board next Tuesday, November 17 at 7 PM, Weill Hall, Betty Ford Classroom (room #1110)

Facebook event

“Come to our Mock Wage Board, where expert speakers, community leaders, and active minimum wage workers will discuss the impact and implementation of raising the minimum wage at the University of Michigan to $15/hour. Based off of the New York City Wage Board, which recently came together to make a recommendation to the City that the minimum wage for fast food workers be raised. They were successful!

While the State of Michigan does not have a wage board, on Thursday October 8, 2015 Detroit15 put on a mock wage board to give workers a voice in our State about their working conditions and the urgency of the minimum wage.

Now the Student Labor Coalition on our campus is bringing a mock wage board here, for solidarity with Detroit15, and for working students and working people on this campus to have a voice about the wages they are making.

At our Mock Wage Board, we will have community leaders, experts on economics and labor, and first-hand workers to discuss the minimum wage situation at the University of Michigan.

All are welcome to join us in learning more about the impact of raising the minimum wage, and to help us formulate a recommendation to the University about this issue”

Black Friday Walmart Rallies in Washtenaw and Livingston County

Support workers fighting for fair pay and respect at WalMart by attending one of three Black Friday rallies in Washtenaw and Livingston Counties on Friday, November 28 . You can find out more details about the rallies at the Black Friday Protest site.

There are three rallies in this area:
Howell – 7:00 AM, November 28
Walmart Supercenter 1754
3850 E Grand River Ave
HOWELL, MI 48843

Saline12:30 PM, November 28
Walmart Supercenter 5472
7000 E Michigan Ave
SALINE, MI 48176

Ypsilanti – 6:30 PM, November 28
Walmart Supercenter 1824
2515 Ellsworth Rd

To RSVP for one of the rallies, go to the Black Friday Protest site.

Press Conference: Response to Ann Arbor Public Schools Plan to Privatize Custodial Work

The majority of the Ann Arbor School Board surprised and shocked many by voting last week to end the long relationship with the custodial staff and their AFSCME union and instead hire a private company for those services. The decision was hasty and did not allow time for the workers to pursue their idea to form a worker coop that would save the District money and save the jobs of these important members of our school community.

On Friday, an ad hoc committee of union and community activists convened by the Huron Valley Central Labor Council met to assess new developments, talk through possible responses and work out the details. Our goals are to find ways to support the custodial workers, members of AFSCME Local 1182, limit the damage of privatization in this case and prevent others in the future.

This kind of privatization is not just a serious and unnecessary blow to the custodians, but also bad for the students and bad for the community.

We will hold a 6:30 pm press conference this Wednesday, June 25, just outside the Ann Arbor Downtown Library, 343 S 5th Ave, Ann Arbor, followed by a presence at the 7 pm School Board meeting upstairs. There will be brief statements from one of the custodial workers affected by the privatization, a parent, one of the developers of the worker co-op idea, a faith leader and a speaker from the Huron Valley Central Labor Council.

We ask that you set aside the 1.5 hours necessary to join us for the press conference and the first hour of the School Board meeting.

Please let us know if you will come by emailing e.ian.robinson at You can also join the Facebook event.

Challenging AAPS Custodial Privatization – Follow-Up Meeting

Activists from the Huron Valley Central Labor Council and the Washtenaw Community Action Team came together for a very successful meeting Monday night at the LEO/GEO offices. We now have a strategy for responding to the Ann Arbor Public Schools Administration’s effort to privatize custodial services.

We will be meeting again 7 PM this Friday June 20 at the LEO/GEO offices – Suite 340, 339 E. Liberty, Ann Arbor for updates on progress and additional planning.

Please join us if you want to be part of this important effort to defend the collective bargaining rights and living standards of hard working people in Ann Arbor.

Whether or not you can come to this Friday evening’s planning meeting at the LEO/GEO offices, please set aside time on Monday, June 23rd, between 3:30 and 4pm, for a possible action.

And please ask those who you know care about this issue to do the same! The precise nature of the action will be determined at our Friday planning meeting and announced shortly thereafter.

Questions? Contact Ian Robinson (e.ian.robinson at

Challenging AAPS Privatization — Strategy Meeting

Strategy Meeting for Challenging Ann Arbor Public Schools Privatization
MONDAY, June 16, 7pm
LEO/GEO offices, 339 E. Liberty, Suite 340, Ann Arbor

As some of you already know, on June 11, the Ann Arbor Public Schools’ Board voted 5-2 to privatize its custodial services by signing a contract with GCA Services Group, a subsidiary of the Blackstone Group. Only Board members Baskett and Lightfoot voted against the deal.

The Board majority ignored the request that it delay its decision until it could evaluate an alternative proposal, under which current employees would form a worker cooperative and contract with the AAPS for the services that they previously supplied as AAPS employees.

This alternative was supported by the union that represents the affected custodial workers, AFSCME Local 1182, by AFSCME’s state-level Council 25, by AAEA, the union representing Ann Arbor’s public school teachers, by University of Michigan academics such as Roland Zullo, and by parents of public school children such as Rabindar Subbian.

If the Board majority’s decision is allowed to stand, these workers will lose their jobs on July 1. They may apply for jobs with GCA, but the company is under no obligation to give preference to the workers who do so. Even if they do get the work, they will face major pay cuts. Employer contributions to their retirement and their health care will also plummet.

Rejecting the creative response put forward by the union in favor of the same old same old neoliberal prescriptions is exactly the wrong direction for Ann Arbor’s public schools and the community they serve. We’ve been following this kind of misguided policy for almost 40 years now. The result: income is becoming more and more polarized throughout the country and — as we’ll show in a report to be released in August — Washtenaw County is no exception to this rule. Job insecurity is growing at the same time. The School Board’s decision will reinforce this negative trends.

It is clear that Republicans in Lansing want to privatize public education as a whole, and are using annual budget cuts as a weapon for pressuring School Boards across the state to move steadily in this direction. The fundamental problem is the balance of political power in Lansing (and Washington), not the School Board. But we need to hold the School Board accountable for failing to even seriously investigate a better option when it was presented to them. They did not need to behave this way. Lansing cannot be blamed for this failure. They are entitled to have doubts about the cooperative option, but in that case they did not need to decide the issues so precipitously. They could have taken an extra month to help develop and assess the coop option.

The union’s proposal does not pretend that sacrifice by workers can be avoided. Republicans in Lansing have been able to ensure that much. Even under the worker co-op plan, these workers will lose employer pension and health contributions because AAPS will no longer be their employer. That is where the savings to AAPS come from. But at least current employees will have the security of keeping their jobs, at current wage levels. And the community will know that any profits from this process will stay in the county, not disappear into the pockets of wealth out-of-state shareholders.

It is unacceptable that the Board’s majority should refuse to assess properly a serious alternative approach that promises to minimize the damage done by bad budget decisions in Lansing while also meeting the budget goals that the Board must achieve.

What can we – Ann Arbor’s taxpayers, parents, union members, and progressive activists — do about this? Plenty, I think. Possible responses include (1) one or more events designed to raise public consciousness about this bad decision and the alternative to it; (2) supporting up to four AAPS School Board members in the November 2014 elections; and (3) helping to develop and promote an alternative, worker and community-friendly vision of economic development in our region, to piggy-back on reports on growing poverty and inequality that will be released by the United Way and the Huron Valley Central Labor Council in August 2014.

You may well have additional and/or better ideas. Please bring yourself and your ideas to our strategy meeting at the LEO/GEO offices this Monday (June 16th) at 7pm! If you are interested in attending, please email Ian Robinson at e.ian.robinson at to let him know. (Rabindar cannot come but he will phone in; if you are in the same situation, let me know!)

Volunteer for More Buses Campaign

The Michigan AFL-CIO is recruiting volunteers to reach out to union and Working America members between now and the May 6th vote on the millage increase to expand public transit in Washtenaw County. We want to make sure that YES side prevails. Here is the sign-up schedule:

Tues (Apr 29), 6:30-9pm @ GEO/LEO offices
Thur (May 1), 6:30-9pm @ GEO/LEO offices
Sat (May 3), 2-4:30pm UAW Local 898 hall
Tues (May 6), three shifts @ IBEW Local 252 hall

Sat (May 3), 10am-12:30pm & 1:30-4pm @ UAW Local 898
Sun (May4), 1:30-4pm @ UAW Local 898

To volunteer, please contact Ian Robinson (HVCLC President) at or Erin Butler (MI AFL-CIO Political Coordinator) at

GEO/LEO — 339 E. Liberty St., Suite 340, Ann Arbor.
UAW Local 898 — 8975 Textile Rd., Ypsilanti.
IBEW Local 252 — 7920 Jackson Rd., Ann Arbor.

Solidarity with Injured GM Workers Launching Hunger Strike February 11th

Demonstrate Solidarity with Injured GM Workers in Colombia
4:30-6 PM TUES FEB. 11
GM Headquarters, Renaissance Center, Detroit MI (map)
Facebook event


The GM-Colombia 8 autoworkers announced on February 1st that they are resuming their water-only hunger strike, with their lips sewn shut, on Tues., Feb. 11th. That’s the date in 1937 when militant UAW workers in Flint ended a historic 44-day sit-down strike, after GM agreed to recognize the UAW as the workers’ exclusive bargaining agent.

Their first fast in August 2012 ended after 22 days when GM agreed to a mediation with the workers’ association, ASOTRECOL – which ended without a settlement. Citing the workers’ rejection of their paltry ‘final offer,’ GM has since refused the workers’ demand to go back to the table.

Out of the 68 members who formed ASOTRECOL in 2011, eight are holding steadfast and remain in the fight today. Employed an average of 8 years, they suffered debilitating injuries working 12-14 hours/day on an antiquated assembly line. 4-6 years ago GM devised illegal ways to get rid of them. With no union to turn to, and stonewalled by the Colombian legal system, the workers in August 2011 set up a tent encampment in front of the US Embassy in Bogota – where they’ve been ever since – (as of Feb. 1st) 914 days.


The working conditions in their factory were eerily similar to those in Flint in the 1930s. These include: hazardous and unhealthy work conditions, job insecurity, extreme speedup, firings, anti-union policies including espionage and intimidation, and displacement of workers at an extremely early age – all with the backdrop of no government oversight and weak or no unions. This is what gave rise to the struggle by the GM workers 80 years ago in Flint – and today in Colombia.

After these conditions were exposed by ASOTRECOL, GM made safety improvements, corrected some management practices and changed management personnel at the Colmotores plant. GM must now end its war of attrition against the GM-Colombia 8, and make them whole!

For more background on the injured GM workers in Colombia, see the ASOTRECOL website.GMColombia

Audio From Trans-Pacific Partnership Forum

Couldn’t make it to WCAT’s 9/26/13 “Topple the TPP: A Forum on the Trans-Pacific Partnership”? Listen to the audio below:

0:00 – 14:21 – Ian Robinson (Washtenaw Community Action Team) on the history of free-trade agreements and their impacts. Overhead slides. (Word document)
15:53 – 27:35 – Natalie Yoon (United Students for Fair Trade) on the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Slides.
27:35 – 32:20 Mary Gallagher (United Students for Fair Trade – University of Michigan chapter) on the environmental impacts of the Transpacific Partnership. Slides (PDF).
32:20 – 39:22 Vas Jacobs (Good Jobs Now) on the impact of free-trade agreements on labor, both in the U.S. and internationally.
39:20 – John Bohn (United Students for Fair Trade – University of Michigan chapter) on what we can do about the Trans-Pacific Partnership and fast-track. More on the artist and activist coalition against the TPP.

To contact the U-M chapter of United Students for Fair Trade, send a message to umichusft at

For more on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, see Public Citizen’s TPP page.