Category Archives: Workers Rights

The People’s Governor Candidate Forum

62 coalition partners announce non-partisan forum for March 3rd in Detroit
Will feature special guest Congressman Luis Gutierrez

An unprecedented coalition of more than 60 organizations so far has announced they will hold the next gubernatorial candidate forum at Detroit’s Tabernacle Missionary Baptist Church at 1:00 PM on March 3, 2018. The People’s Governor Forum: Transforming Michigan’s Future will offer voters the opportunity to hear directly from candidates on issues that directly affect their lives.


“We are going to demand that the politicians come to us early, and that they listen to our community’s needs,” said  Co-chair Rev. Deedee Coleman, President of the Council of Baptist Pastors of Detroit & Vicinity. “We want them to address our bold agenda for a prosperous, healthy future for all.”

Hassan Sheikh, Executive Dir. Emgage
Hassan Sheikh, Executive Dir. Emgage

Co-chair Hassan Sheikh, Executive Director of Emgage announced that the People’s Governor Candidate Forum will feature Congressman Luis Gutierrez of Illinois. “Congressman Gutierrez has been a champion for working people, for immigration reform, and a voice for those who have been marginalized and left out.” said Sheikh. “The Congressman will get us fired up, and outline the values we hope that candidates will embody.

The candidates confirmed to attend so far include Democrats Abdul El-Sayed, Gretchen Whitmer and Bill Cobbs, as well as Republican Patrick Colbeck. The group has invited candidates from all parties who have submitted 15,000 nominating petition signatures to the Secretary of State or drawn at least 5% support in an independent non-partisan statewide poll by February 19th. They will be challenged to address issues of  poverty, inequality, and racism. Co-chair said the group has decided on 6 topics for the night: criminal justice reform, environmental justice, education, care, immigration and workers rights.

Gov forum announcement from Michigan United on Vimeo.

“We’re going to bring real people, workers, families, people of faith, child care providers and immigrants, to speak truth to power.” Said Co-chair Dr. Louis Forsythe of Pleasant Grove Missionary Baptist Church.

The candidate forum’s audience quickly outgrew its first venue and was moved to Tabernacle Missionary Baptist Church where the sanctuary holds 2,400 with a quiet room for childcare.

Sanctuary of the Tabernacle Missionary Baptist Church
Sanctuary of the Tabernacle Missionary Baptist Church

Buses have already been reserved to bring voters from Grand Rapids, Lansing, and Macomb County. “When we join together, the candidates will know that they have to deal  with us collectively.” Said Co-chair Freddy Polanco of the SEIU.

You can see a list of member organizations and reserve a seat with a free ticket on the Michigan United website. Registration is required.

Translation into Spanish and child supervision are available.

Immigrant rights advocates speak out for laborers killed in fire

Tragedy in Novi only highlights injustice nationwide

District Judge Marianne Battani’s decision last Thursday not to hold a Novi man responsible for the deaths of five young men has immigrant rights advocates outraged. The Mexican laborers, aged 16-23, were living in Roger Tam’s basement when a fire broke out, killing them all. Judge Battani sentenced Tam to 9 months in jail for hiring the men but refused to punish him for the circumstances leading to their deaths. At a press conference Tuesday outside the Levin Federal Courthouse, representatives of LaSED, NAACP, the Congress of Communities and Michigan United pointed to the incident and outcome as evidence of a system that forces millions to live and work in abject conditions while not holding accountable those responsible.

Mary Carmen headshot 3“Sadly, this is not an isolated incident.” said Mary Carmen Munoz of LaSED. “Undocumented immigrants are being exploited and abused all across the country and the perpetrators are not being held accountable. “

SAM_1645The coalition is calling for safe working and living conditions, and a livable wage for all workers whether they are immigrant, American or undocumented. ““How sad is it that the lives of these five young people could be marginalized?” Said Donnell R. White, Executive Director of the Detroit Branch of the NAACP. “Today, we call on our justices and elected officials to move legislation to prevent this from happening again and to hold those responsible to the letter of the law when it does. Today we are united as one community and one voice.”

“We will not accept hateful and divisive politics that spread fear and lies about our immigrant families.” Said Consuela Lopez, Congress of Communities. “We want real protections for all workers Americans and immigrants alike.”


Immigrant families at risk if Trump keeps promises

Don’t despair. Organize!

Join Michigan United and our partners as we work to resist deportations.

Michigan Sanctuary Movement 

Are you or your congregation interested in providing sanctuary for immigrants in danger of deportation? CLICK HERE  to become part of the statewide movement to protect immigrant families.

 Michigan United statewide strategy summit-December 10th

We have a lot of work to do, and we need to get organized. Please cjoin our statewide strategy summit, co-sponsored with the Michigan Immigrants Rights Center. CLICK HERE to be part of the discussion on how we can resist the deportations, support families, and develop strategies for how we can stand up for justice and dignity for all. 

Strategy Summit

Saturday, December 10
12:00 PM – 3:00 PM

Trinity Lutheran Church
1400 W. Stadium
Ann Arbor, MI 48103

Civil Rights, Faith Groups Stand Together Against Post-Election Hate Incidents

Detail Plans to Resist Deportations

More than a dozen civil rights and faith groups stood together at Central United Methodist Church Monday to condemn a recent spate of racist incidents and to declare their intention to work together to protect their families and communities in the coming years.
sam_8680“The election is over, but that doesn’t mean we have to quietly accept the policies of a Trump Administration,” said Sergio Martinez, Michigan United board member. “We’re not going to give an inch to mass deportations. Our community is organized like never before to defend our families. We’re going to resist Donald Trump’s immigration plans, and we need your help.”
Speakers outlined specific plans for family defense:
  • Michigan United will host a town hall and know-your-rights meeting on Saturday, November 19th, at Noon, at their offices, 4405 Wesson in Detroit. Legal support will be on hand for immigrant families wondering about their options.
  • The Michigan Immigrants Rights Center is calling for pro-bono attorneys to volunteer to defend immigrant families in deportation. Volunteer attorneys will be trained in the basics of immigration law. Contact Susan Reed—
  • Volunteers who are not attorneys but would like to learn how to get credentialed to represent immigrants in deportation cases can join our Family Defense team. Contact Susan Reed or Michigan United legal director Diego Bonesatti,
  • Congregations who are interested in learning how to provide sanctuary to immigrant families in imminent threat of deportation, contact Rev. Jack Eggleston of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America,
  • Survivors of anti-Muslim hate crimes or bias incidents can report them to the Council on American Islamic Relations, www.cairmichigan.org248.529.2247
  • To help promote tolerance, diversity and educate your community, contact Take on Hate at ACCESS, Asha Noor, or Welcoming Michigan, Christine Sauve,
Participants in the event included Michigan United, the Michigan Immigrants’ Rights Center, Asian Pacific Islander Americans – Vote Michigan, ACCESS, ACLU – Michigan, National Lawyers Guild, Methodist Coalition for Social Action, Council on American Islamic Relations – Michigan, Latino Family Services, the Muslim Community Council, the International Institute of Metropolitan Detroit, the National Lawyers Guild, Voces Community Center, and State Representative Stephanie Chang.

“Fair Chances for All” says City Attorney’s will clear the way for hiring ordinance.

Michigan United group keeps up pressure as commission to take up proposal.

Despite pressure from residents, the Kalamazoo city commission has put off the issue of a ‘Fair Chances’ hiring policy as long as it could, but now it looks as though they’re running out of excuses. At their early April meeting, the commission decided to wait until they’d heard back from City Attorney, Clyde J. Robinson on the impact such a rule might have. Earlier this week, the city attorney’s office met with ‘Fair Chances 4 All’ (FC4A), the community group pushing for the anti-discrimination ordinance for employers who benefit from the city’s tax incentives.

FC4A leader  Kendall Campbell says everything Robinson told them in the meeting was positive and it appears he will green light the idea. “We are very pleased with the momentum we have built.” said Campbell. “In the policy drafted by the Attorney, all of our goals have been clearly met.”



Although the report may have been completed before Monday’s commission meeting, there is still another step in the process before they will take it up. Robinson must first officially submit his report to the city clerk before commissioners can digest it and address the issue at their next meeting.  “Our eyes are set on May 16th being our victory day. We expect this policy will be presented to the City Commission for a vote and we are very confident it will pass.”

“Fair Chances for All’ to reveal details of pending Kalamazoo City Attorney report

City commission running out of excuses to delay action on anti-discrimination plan

The Kalamazoo city commission has put off discussion of a ‘Fair Chances’ hiring ordinance until they’ve received a report from the city attorney, Clyde J. Robinson. Earlier this week, Robinson met with ‘Fair Chances for All’ (FC4A), the Michigan United group that is pushing the commission to take up the rules preventing employees from inquiring about criminal records before hiring.

Before the next commission meeting Monday, FC4A will hold a press conference to detail what they discovered in their meeting with Robinson.  FC4A members will also have another tailgate party leading up to the press conference that will include roasted meats and sidewalk art expressing their hope for their loved ones.

Once inside, FC4A members will keep up the pressure on the commission with a speakout and creative direct action during the public comment period.

Press Conference detailing FC4A’s meeting  with the Kalamazoo City Attorney and what this will mean for proposed ‘Fair Chances’ hiring ordinance.


  • Jerrin Yarbrough, Kalamazoo area student
  • Kendall Campbell, co-founder of Humans Beyond Boxes
  • Lisa Bloomberg, Kalamazoo resident
  • Amy Vliek, Director of Admissions WMU School of Social Work

Monday May 2, 2016
6:00pm Tailgate & Chalk Up
6:30pm Press Conference
7:00pm City Commission Meeting with Speak Out & ACTION

Kalamazoo City Hall,
241 W South St.
Kalamazoo, MI 49007

Capitol Day 2016

Join hundreds of Michigan United leaders and allies from across the state as we take over Lansing in the name of economic, environmental, and racial justice!

Click here to register for Capitol Day 2016 NOW!

We will meet with our legislators to push for grassroots solutions to injustices our communities face. Following the meetings, we will join with allies from across the state to amplify our voices against those causing pain in our communities by carrying out a DIRECT ACTION.

Michigan United will provide buses for transportation from Detroit and Kalamazoo. Detroit will depart from 6451 Schaefer Rd, Dearborn & Kalamazoo will depart from their office at 1009 E Stockbridge Ave, Kalamazoo. A logistics email will be sent to all registered attendees a week before the event with many details, including depart times and locations.

Please click here to register if you plan to attend. A space to enter attendees’ names will appear once you choose how many places you would like to reserve. Please include the names of everyone for whom you reserve a spot.

A light breakfast and lunch will be provided. Please indicate any dietary restrictions when registering.

Childcare will also be provided. Please indicate if you will require childcare, along with their names and ages. Unfortunately, we are unable to provide childcare for children under the age of 2 years.

This is a FREE event. However, we greatly appreciate donations to help offset the costs. Click here to donate now! A donation of $60 more makes you an official member in good standing!

For additional information about Capitol Day 2016, please contact our office, 877-507-7774, ext 725 or email


Fight  for $15 calls for urgent fix to child care crisis, citing new report on widespread economic benefits to national investment in quality care and workforce

As child care workers and other underpaid workers prepare for the biggest-ever protests across the country on April 14,  child care advocates and parents in the Fight for $15 reacted today to a new national study that found widespread benefits to a national investment in quality child care and higher pay for child care workers, calling on their elected leaders to invest in affordable, quality child care and a stronger workforce.

The new report by the Economic Policy Institute released this week found that a national investment that caps families’ child care expenditures at 10 percent of their income could help more women join and stay in the workforce, boosting national GDP by about $210 billion and putting $5.7 (B) billion into Michigan’s economy. Making child care affordable would also save the average Michigan family $3,888 a year. Child care providers are currently among the lowest paid workers in the country, with a median hourly wage 39.3% lower than the median hourly wage of workers in other occupations.

Audio actualities from the tele-press conference are available for download by clicking here

“It doesn’t matter how much you make, you still have to pay for quality care regardless of income. And it’s just that much harder when you can afford it.” said Tina Patterson, mother of a 3 year old girl in Detroit, Michigan. “I don’t want to compromise the quality of my child’s care, but that can be difficult given the cost of child care.”

The report also found that fixing our broken child care system would put more money into the pockets of working people and improve the quality of care. A wage of at least $15 an hour would directly raise wages for 60% of child care workers. Higher wages, the report found, would also create incentives for child care centers to invest in staff training, ultimately improving quality and strengthening the workforce. Last week, 6.5 million Californians and millions of workers in New York—where the Fight for $15 began just three and a half years ago—celebrated a historic $15/hr win, in which more than 10 million workers secured unprecedented raises from coast to coast.

“Right now, Michigan’s Child Development and Care program provides child care subsidies to low-income working families with incomes below 121% of poverty.” Said Meredith Loomis Quinlan, Michigan United Child Care Advocacy Coordinator.We are advocating for the threshold to be bumped up to 150% of the poverty line in 2017. That would mean an income of just over $30,000 for a family of three. To provide access for those families, the state would need to invest an additional $44 million into the budget for the Child Development and Care program.”

At presidential debates over the last few months from Iowa to New Hampshire to South Carolina, child care workers have been protesting and calling on candidates to back $15/hr and union rights to get their vote. Last year, child care workers and parents in the Fight for $15 met with Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton on the need for economic policies that strengthen the child care workforce and invest in affordable quality child care. Congressional leaders have introduced Senate and House resolutions calling for affordable, accessible care for all families and a living wage for all child care workers.

Kalamazoo Voter Forum Draws Crowd of Over 100 Residents



Candidates Talk Jobs, Youth, Prosperity, Housing, and Police Discrimination

A diverse audience of more than 100 people filled the Kalamazoo Public Library to hear from fifteen candidates for Kalamazoo Mayor and City Commission last night. The forum was hosted by Michigan United and the League of Women Voters. Majyck D, a well-known radio personality from Kalamazoo’s 95.5 FM “The Touch”, served as moderator.

The questions spanned a variety of issues including support for this November’s housing millage in Kalamazoo County and job opportunities for people with criminal records.

Every candidate, excluding Vice Mayor David Anderson, stated support for a policy to remove the criminal history question and delay background checks for businesses that receive tax abatements from the City of Kalamazoo.

“I absolutely support a policy that will do this,” said candidate Erin Knott, “People’s past mistakes aren’t the sum total of who they are, and if we are serious about economic stability, we have to get people back to work.”

Candidate Eric Cunningham, a sitting commissioner, referred to his own struggle to find a job with a felony record, and that he had to go through over 2000 interviews until he was given an opportunity.

All commissioners also supported the county wide millage on the ballot this November to support families with school age children who are homeless.

Commissioners answered questions posed about economic stability, the housing millage, being responsive and transparent to the community, racial profiling in law enforcement, and supporting youth.  However, none of the candidates for commissioner chose to respond to a question asking how they would make Kalamazoo more welcoming to immigrants.

Michigan coalition seeks to raise minimum wage through ballot proposal

MLive article by Melissa Anders:

LANSING — A coalition of labor and civil rights groups have formed a committee that could push for a ballot proposal to raise Michigan’s minimum wage.

The organizations on Monday said they were going to submit paperwork to the Michigan Secretary of State to form a ballot proposal committee. They plan to make a formal decision on moving forward with a campaign for the Nov. 2014 ballot in the next few weeks.

Michigan last increased its minimum wage to $7.40 per hour in 2008. It is among 21 states with a minimum wage above the federal level of $7.25.

The coalition hasn’t announced specific numbers yet, but wants to raise both the regular minimum wage as well as the minimum for tipped employees, which has been $2.65 per hour for about 22 years.

“We know we have public support for this; it’s just common sense that if you’re working 40 hours a week you should be making enough to support your family,” said Danielle Atkinson, director of Mothering Justice, one of the coalition members.

The news comes one day before President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address, a forum which Obama has used in the past to push for a federal minimum wage increase, and he is expected to discuss income inequality on Tuesday.

Workers and activists held several protests throughout Michigan and nationwide last year to call for an increase in the state and federal minimum wages.

And lawmakers in at least 30 states are sponsoring or are expected to introduce wage hike measures, according to a national review by The Associated Press. They hope to notch state-level victories as Obama and congressional Democrats remain stymied in attempts to raise the federal minimum wage above $7.25 an hour.

In Michigan, Sen. Bert Johnson, D-Detroit, introduced legislation to increase the state’s minimum wage from $7.40 to $10 per hour by 2016. He introduced a similar bill last session that never made it out of committee. Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mark Schauer has proposed a minimum wage hike to $9.25 per hour.

Opponents, many of them Republicans, argue that the higher wages translate into fewer jobs and higher consumer costs. In Florida, Gov. Rick Scott said the claim that working families need the boost to make ends meet makes him “cringe, because I know that statement is a lie,” noting that even with a higher minimum wage, families couldn’t make ends meet, according to the AP. He said he’s focused instead on creating better jobs and careers.

“Our politicians in both Lansing and Congress have failed us, so we have to start looking at other ways to move this issue forward and get people a raise,” said Frank Houston, chair of the Oakland County Democratic Party and consultant for the Restaurant Opportunities Center of Michigan. “It’s ridiculous that working people have had to wait on politicians to get this done when there is overwhelming support. It’s really unacceptable.”

Muskegon resident Shannon Bryson, 33, is a single mom with two kids and earns minimum wage working part time at a fast food restaurant.

“By the time I pay for gas to get to and from work, there’s not much left of my pay check,” she said in a statement. “Raising the minimum wage could do a lot for mothers like me. I see people evicted from their homes because they don’t earn enough to pay their rent, and during this cold, cold winter, I see children whose parents can’t afford to dress them warmly enough.”

The coalition includes the Center for Progressive Leadership, Michigan United, MOSES, the Restaurant Opportunities Center of (ROC) Michigan, Mothering Justice and Building Movement Project/People’s Platform.

MLive reporter Jonathan Oosting and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Email Melissa Anders at Follow her on Google+ and Twitter: @MelissaDAnders. Download the MLive app for iPhone and Android