For the first time ever, unions were invited to sponsor and speak at last week’s Mackinac Republican Leadership Conference, Michigan’s biennial GOP summit. Former U.S. Representative Pete Hoekstra spoke with representatives from Operating Engineers 324 and Michigan Laborers District Council to discuss their shared values ââand the future of union-Republican collaboration.
The OE324 and MLDC together represent nearly 30,000 construction workers in Michigan, whose manual labor is considered the standard of excellence in construction, road and pipeline construction.
âRight to work and salary in force, it is behind us. We’re about to move forward, âOE324 Policy Director William Miller III told Detroit News at Saturday’s conference. “We are really the politics on the party.”
Is this what happens when Republicans assert their claim as a party of the working class? Absolutely, and the evidence is growing. Consider Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., Proposal for a “blue collar bounty,” or Republicans trying to resurrect the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline – and thousands of well-paying American jobs – that President Biden has canceled on his first day at the office.
President Trump has captured the populist rhetoric of a movement that is really happening, and Lansing is no exception.
Republicans are now the unions’ only ally
For Michigan trade unions – as with any entity focused on longevity, opportunity, less regulation and less taxes for hard workers – Republicans are not just an ally in Lansing, they are the only ally in Lansing. Where Democrats once stood for union values, they now choose activism over job creation, time and time again.
For an example, see the fight in Michigan over Enbridge Energy Line 5. With no impetus aside from Green Deal activism against fossil fuels, Democrats have started a legal battle to shut down Line 5, the pipeline that carries more than half a million barrels per day. of petroleum and natural gas liquids throughout the Great Lakes region.
Closing the pipeline would kill tens of thousands of jobs, hurt farmers, remove a heat source essential to thousands of Michigan families, reduce state tax revenues, and cut off the supply of crude oil to refineries across the country. Midwest.
Democrats are showing not only resistance over Line 5, but heartless cynicism. They offer no viable solution to the pipeline shutdown and the enormous effect on human lives. Their contempt for rural life is palpable.
Compare that to union leaders on the GOP stage on Saturday describing their apprenticeship and skills training programs popular among Michigan ‘farm boys’, who can work as union traders during their offseason to support their families. .
How working in the trades has blessed my life
I am proud to be one of the Lansing Republicans who helped bring the unions to Mackinac last week. I have spent much of my 20 years in various roles in the Michigan legislature advocating for trades, apprenticeships, and alternative education options because it is so personal to me.
The first time I experienced teamwork in my life was when I was a boy on a special construction site helping volunteer workers and traders to build the Habitat house. for the humanity my parents should have.
I struggled with algebra in high school and my freshman year of college, after which I dropped out. The structural and psychological barriers to obtaining my bachelor’s degree as an adult learner fueled my passion to give Michiganders the widest and most varied access to apprenticeships, diplomas, certificates, two-year diplomas. and four-year diplomas.
A path to good, debt-free jobs
Unfortunately, access to information is a battle. What far too many young Americans don’t know is that tuition-free exchange programs are student-hungry, and most offer compensation and leave no debt burden. They don’t know that there are six-month tuition-free welding courses offering recognized certificates in all 50 states. There are many other such programs that offer life skills.
Bipartisan by necessity, legislation promoting union values ââhas not been run by Democrats for years. Republicans are leading policy and legislative action on issues such as the visibility of learning, skills-based education, and the modern reality of high-tech and high-wage opportunities in manufacturing.
Breaking narrow interpretations of education and skills pays off. Companies such as Walgreens have bravely tried their luck in providing special needs accommodation in their workplace and have found extreme success, especially in their warehouses staffed with adults with special needs, whose abilities and capacity. Attendance have consistently exceeded the performance of the usual workforce.
Modern apprenticeship is a powerful antidote to the dogmatic stubbornness within progressive higher education that leaves far too many graduates with unsaleable degrees and crushing debt. What about the gold standard for modern tuition-free learning? Professional unions.
If unions and Republicans work together in Michigan, it won’t be long before the nation follows suit.
Ben Frederick is the state representative for Michigan’s 85th District.