DSA sponsored rally
Over 300 people attended the Call to Action Rally at the United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW) Local 876 Hall in Madison Heights on February 18th 2010. The rally was organized to press members of the Michigan Congressional delegation , particularly in the Senate, to pass key components of the progressive agenda including health care reform, cap and trade energy legislation, immigration reform, and the Employee Free Choice Act. Greater Detroit Democratic Socialists of America co-sponsored the rally along with 31 other organizations including Health Care for America Now, the UAW, the Metropolitan Detroit AFL-CIO, the Service Employees International Union ), UFCW, UNITE-HERE Local 24, AFSCME Council 25, Reform Immigration for America, Repower America (the organization founded by former Vice-President Al Gore to promote investment in renewable energy), Gray Panthers of Metro Detroit, Michigan Universal Health Care Access Network, the Arabic Community Coalition for Economic and Social Security, Southeast Michigan Jobs with Justice, MoveOn, and MOSES.
Congressmen Sander Levin and John Conyers, Jr. addressed the audience. In addition, aides to Senators Debbie Stabenow and Carl Levin and Representatives Dale Kildee, Gary Peters, Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick, and John Dingell attended the rally.
DSA member Al Fishman spoke to the audience about how the disastrous wars in Iraq and Afghanistan had undermined Obama’s domestic agenda in a manner analogous to the way in which the Vietnam War undermined President Johnson’s Great Society programs. DSA Executive Board member Dave Ivers spoke about the imperative for a national jobs program, shared a personal anecdote about how the health care crisis had affected his family, and stressed the importance of Congress passing the Employee Free Choice Act to make it easier for workers to organize unions. Other speakers included Chris Michalakis, Legislative Director of UFCW Local 876, who spoke about the importance of comprehensive immigration reform. Luke Canfora of Repower America described the huge potential benefits of investment in renewable energy (decreased reliance on foreign oil, reduced emissions of greenhouse gases, and job creation). Marcia Boehm and Altheia Henry discussed the urgent need for health care reform. John Freeman, Michigan Director of Health Care for America Now, moderated the event.
UAW and AFL-CIO members joined Occupy Detroit protestors during a Nov. 6 march and rally to collect winter supplies. The demonstration highlighted a continuing alliance between the region’s labor unions and Occupy Detroit activists.
Chris Michalakis, legislative and political director of the UFCW and secretary treasurer for the metro Detroit AFL-CIO, has spent several nights in Grand Circus Park.
He says labor has supported the Occupy movement from the beginning, but the Nov. 6 rally was a significant indication of solidarity.
“It’s good for the Occupy movement to see labor’s contributions,” Michalakis told the Michigan Citizen. “It’s also good for the labor movement’s rank-and-file members to see the occupation for themselves and see a lot of the contributions being put to good use.”
Labor is part of a wide-ranging coalition, according to Michalakis, and not in a leadership capacity. He says that gives the movement the best chance to grow organically and create positive political change for all working people.
“The camp is the symbolic center of the Occupy movement and the General Assemblies will be going on well into the winter — committee groups are meeting and putting together a lot of great actions,” says Michalakis. “This is really the beginning of what’s going to be a very politically charged election cycle next year.”
AFL-CIO’s Michalakis says observers should refrain from narrowing the political framework of the Occupy movement.
“While this movement isn’t political specifically — it doesn’t endorse candidates and its not about partisanship — we hope they are going to raise a lot of issues that we hope our elected officials take up in the next election,” said Michalakis.
He added that the city, including the police, has been fair in its hands-off approach and he hopes that will continue through the holiday season.
Detroit Angela Davis gathering
A standing room only crowd of nearly 2,000 people welcomed Angela Davis, October 24, 2012, to Detroit to celebrate the 40th anniversary of her acquittal on charges of murder, kidnapping and conspiracy. The event, held at Fellowship Chapel on the city's northwest side, was a "powerful demonstration of the respect and affection Detroiters have for Professor Davis and her history of struggle for economic, racial and gender justice."
The program included Fellowship Pastor Wendell Anthony, Congressman John Conyers, Detroit City Councilperson JoAnn Watson, Metro Detroit AFL-CIO President Chris Michalakis, Retired Wayne County Circuit Court Judge and civil rights activist Claudia Morcom, Metro AFL-CIO Civil Rights Committee Chair Michele Artt and UAW Vice-President Cindy Estrada.
President Michalakis emphasized the importance of the election to the "future of our democracy." He called attention to three statewide ballot proposals. He called for a no vote on Prop. 1 which would allow the governor to impose emergency ﬁnancial managers on municipalities and school districts that he determines to be in ﬁnancial difficulty. These ﬁnancial dictators could usurp the powers of local elected ofﬁcials and unilaterally void collective bargaining agreements. He called for yes votes on Prop. 2 and 4. Prop. 2 would amend the state constitution to guarantee collective bargaining rights and prevent enactment of "right-to-work" legislation. Prop. 4 would create a home care worker registry for seniors and guarantee collective bargaining rights for home care workers.
2013 Hershel Walker Peace and Justice Awards
Over 120 union leaders, community, student, faith, and LGBT activists, attended the 21st Annual Hershel Walker 'Peace & Justice' Awards Breakfast, May 4 at the Communications Workers of America Local 6300 union hall.
They came to celebrate the work of St. Louis area activists, and to hear metro-Detroit AFL-CIO central labor council president, Chris Michalakis, talk about the impact of so-called 'Right-to-Work' legislation in Michigan and what we can expect if RTW passes the republican controlled legislature here.
Michalakis attacked the influence of money in politics, especially in the Republican Party, and highlighted the role of its far-right corporate funders in forcing 'Right-to-Work' onto Michigan workers.
He said, "Corporate types and CEOs don't make contributions. They make investments."
"For years, the DeVos family, the Koch brothers, the Waltons - here in Missouri you have a guy by the name of Rex Sinquefield - have been putting in obscene amounts of money to create organizations like the Tea Party, Americans For Prosperity, the Republican Governors Association, etc."
"And they have been funding all of these organizations not out of the kindness of their hearts," Michalakis said, "but because they expect a return on their investment."
The Missouri legislature is currently debating so-called 'Right-to-Work' legislation, paycheck deception and attacks on prevailing wage laws. Fortunately, Missouri Governor, Jay Nixon, has vowed to veto these and other anti-worker bills if they make it to his desk.
Michalakis summed-up his remarks, "The Right Wing celebrated when Michigan fell and became a 'Right-to-Work' state. I want to make them regret that that happened."
Michalakis also talked about the struggles for LGBT and immigrant rights. He emphasized the role of the labor movement in championing movements that expand democracy and protect hard-won rights in the workplace, like domestic partner benefits.
2013 11th Annual Douglass-Debs Dinner
Over 180 people attended the thirteenth annual Frederick Douglass-Eugene V. Debs Dinner at UAW Local 600 in Dearborn on November 10th. Honorees were Steve Babson/People Before Banks Coalition and Marjorie Mitchell, the Executive Director of the Michigan Universal Health Care Access Network.
The dinner co-chairs were Metropolitan Detroit AFL-CIO President Chris Michalakis and Tony Trupiano, host of “First Shift,” the morning talk show on WDTW. The Bill Meyer Group provided the entertainment.
Mentored by Carl Reinstein
Chris Michalakis, president of the Metro-Detroit AFL-CIO, said of Carl, "I'm sad to learn about the passing of my friend and mentor, Carl Reinstein. Carl was a World War II vet, a former member of the UE, a longtime member of the UAW Local 174, where he was once a part of their Flying Squadron. He marched with Dr. King, and spent his whole life fighting for social justice. May his memory be eternal."
- ↑ http://detroitdsa.com/March%202010%20DSA%20Newsletter.pdf GDDSA newsletter. March 2010 Volume 11, Issue 2]
- ↑ The Michigan Citizen, Unions rally with Occupy Detroit, Nov 13, 2011, By Eric T. Campbell
- ↑ Peoples World, Angela Davis speaks to 2,000 at Michigan rally, by: Mark Walton, October 25 2012
- ↑ PW, Activists, union leaders attend Peace & Justice Awards Breakfast, by: Tony Pecinovsky, May 9 2013
- ↑ GDDSA newsletter, January 2013 Volume 14, Issue 1, John Nichols Delights the Audience at Thirteenth Annual Douglass-Debs Dinner, By David Green]
- ↑ PW, Carl Reinstein, fighter for workers, equality, dies at 96'by: Special to Peoples World.org June 10 2013