Hoffa: Michigan lawmakers should put public first

Posted: April 9, 2014
Source: James P. Hoffa, The Detroit News
Serving in government is not always easy. There are myriad issues the public wants solved and limited dollars to do so. There is partisan gridlock. And sometimes it seems there just isn’t enough time to take on all the challenges that need to be faced.

Being an elected official in Michigan is no different. But lately, there are some real reasons to question the decisions made by the Legislature and Gov. Rick Snyder. Lawmakers are wasting time taking on politically-motivated issues that will actually make peoples’ lives worse while they ignore everyday matters that could make them better.

Take, for instance, the case of a Michigan Senate appropriations subcommittee that late last month approved a spending bill that would strip Michigan State University of $500,000 in annual funding if the school continues to offer a training program for building trade union members. Supporters of the provision, which include the Associated Builders and Contractors of Michigan, says the program encourages organizing in non-union construction companies.

The legislation, however, ignores several important points. First, the classes are paid for by the trade unions, not taxpayer money. They are also held in union facilities off-campus. And these seminars are intended to help workers who are looking to enhance their skills so they can more effectively represent workers in their union.

At a time when many middle-class families are struggling, why are some in Michigan trying to hamper those workers who are going the extra mile to get additional training and get ahead? Forget academic freedom, this would be an academic failure if it is allowed to be implemented. Quite simply, some Republicans in the state don’t want union people to be empowered.
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