The following letter appeared in the Michigan Chronicle on July 31, 2019.
By Sen. Adam Hollier
Six years later, more people have begun to galvanize around a $15 minimum wage as well, but we sometimes forget the people pushing, organizing and sustaining that early movement were unions and workers who know the value of union representation.
Earlier this month — thanks to the work of SEIU Local 1 — janitors and security officers in downtown Detroit were able to successfully negotiate a $15 minimum wage.
Among them was Dolores, a 12-year veteran security officers born and raised in Detroit who is raising her 4-year-old granddaughter and living in subsidized housing. She has worked more than one job all her adult life and is still working part-time hours between two companies. She’s one of the SecurAmerica officers who went on strike, and, after months of being ignored by management, their action earned them a $15-an-hour minimum wage on July 5.
This week, U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris was in town and listened as Mattie Hunter, another security officers, told her story, demanding a voice in her workplace. Thanks to SEIU Local 1 a US Senator, and presidential candidate acknowledged her leadership, echoed her words and showed her respect and dignity. Sen Harris was clear and on target saying “Unions built the middle class, and we must hold corporations like Bedrock accountable to give every worker a voice and fair treatment.”
The fact of the matter is this: Every worker in Detroit and across Michigan deserves to have a workplace that is safe. Unions have led to safer worksites. Every worker deserves fair and true living wages. Unions fight for fair wages for a day’s work. And, for generations, thousands upon thousands of workers in this state – union and non-union – enjoyed employer-paid benefits, better-paying jobs, weekends and more because leaders and unions supported the rise of a middle class.
Unfortunately, that has already started to erode under a Republican-led legislature and the previous administration.
The GOP has spent the last eight years gutting citizen-led referendums intended to support all Michigan workers and making back-door deals to bust up workers’ rights with the so-called “right to work” law.
When the debate about this nation’s and state’s future comes to Michigan next week, let’s let everyone know: It’s not too late to get back to the playbook that built the middle class, and that time is now. BB Workers should be allowed to organize, and everyone deserves a fair, livable wage for a day’s work. A $15 minimum wage is one important part of the equation.
We can do better when we work in solidarity.
Sen. Adam Hollier (D–Detroit) represents citizens of the 2nd District in Wayne County that includes the cities of Detroit, Grosse Pointe, Grosse Pointe Farms, Grosse Pointe Park, Grosse Pointe Woods, Hamtramck, Harper Woods and Highland Park, and the Village of Grosse Pointe Shores.