Economic and Social Justice
"Somehow we have to convince people w;ho vote in the presidential election to vote in the midterm elections. If they don't they have no reason to complains." Bill Clinton
October Informational Meeting
Date and Time: October 19, 7:00 PM
Place: West Shore Facility, 400 River Street, Manistee
Program: Dr. Pamala Pugh, Candidate for Senate
Dr. Pamela Pugh, a native Michigander, brings 25 years of invaluable experience as a public health expert and a dedicated advocate for environmental justice. Her career has been marked by transformative achievements and unwavering commitment to improving the lives of Michigan residents.
Pamela attended Saginaw High School and received both a Doctor of Public Health and Master of Science from the University of Michigan after earning her B.S. in Chemical Engineering from Florida A&M University, Florida’s only publicly-funded Historically Black College and University. Driven by her commitment to public service, her journey as an engineer, scientist, and researcher to the president of the Michigan State Board of Education exemplifies her unwavering commitment to fighting for the people.
As I am writing this, the news of the day is dominated by the UAW strike against the Big Three automakers. The union workers are striking to recover a portion of what they gave up back in 2008-2009, in the midst of the Great Recession, to help save the US auto industry from collapse due to poor management and poor leadership.
These three publicly traded companies have since recovered and posted record profits while their stock prices and executive- level compensation have also soared. Despite the current era of automaker prosperity this same period many of the workers who produce the components and build these vehicles are not making enough money to afford the same high-quality, American- made vehicles they are rolling off the assembly lines without having to work extreme overtime hours or hold down another job.
The strike undertaken by the UAW is justified and will ultimately benefit all working men and women who deserve to share in the fruits of their labor – the same labor that enriches the executives and stockholders.
One of the most valuable courses I took as an undergrad at Michigan Tech was Labor Relations 101 taught by Carmine Della-Quadri, who was the primary negotiator for the UAW during the 1960’s. On our first day of class, he made a statement that has served me well for almost 50 years in both my military and business careers: He said, “Management gets the union it deserves!”.
He went on to explain to the class, many of which would end up as mid-to-upper-level executives in the Big Three, that you can manage budgets or projects, but you must lead people. During our weeks together in that class, he shared many examples of his experiences with managers who were great at bringing a project in on-time and under budget, or great at maintaining strict financial budget controls, but failed to succeed in their long-term career because they neglected to prioritize taking the time to discover the personal and professional goals of the people they were assigned to lead and aligning those goals with the goals of the organization. Their failure in leadership resulted in high manpower turnover, dismal morale, and eventually poor performance. This lack of focused leadership is what ultimately caused the near collapse of the domestic auto industry in the USA back in 2008-2009. It was the union workers who made the concessions necessary to save the auto industry in America and now it is time for them to be made whole for their willingness to sacrifice for the long term greater good.
One major issue concerning the UAW leadership is how the Big Three will handle the transition from gas/diesel to electric vehicles (EVs). Senior executives at all three companies have enthusiastically embraced the move to electric vehicles because they can see that they will be less labor- intensive to produce and command a higher profit margin. These same industry executives are
willingly aligning with the public’s concern about climate change and see EVs as a clear path to this highly engaged section of the car-buying market.
The UAW wants to have the ability to unionize the workers in the American battery plants that will be supplying the Big Three in the future so that these workers can also afford to purchase the vehicles their batteries will propel. It has been a shame to see some politicians lining up to bash and blame the Biden administration for the decisions that in reality have been made by free-market capitalist leaders in the Big Three to aggressively pursue the conversion from fossil fuels to lower carbon alternatives. In fact, when speaking to a group of Michigan non-union auto employees this week, Donald Trump attempted to demonize the transition to EVs rather than express unreserved support for the striking workers. His stance was hardly a surprise to those who have watched him engage in anti-union practices for decades.
Yes, there will be challenges as the implementation and technology supporting EVs progresses, but we can take comfort that technology is rapidly advancing. Less than 30 years ago, no one believed that smart phone technology would progress as fast as it did. Now, virtually everyone is carrying a personal computer in their pocket. Despite misinformation proliferating across social media and right-wing entertainment outlets, no one in our federal government is mandating that everyone today, tomorrow, or well into the future must only drive EVs. The free market, shaped by consumers concerned about climate change, will drive this natural conversion and the EV supply chains will rise to the opportunity to make more money. THIS is how capitalism is supposed to function!
Eventually, the internal combustion engine will go the way of the horse and buggy and be found exclusively in museums to be marveled at by our great grandchildren. Even the big oil companies are getting on board and developing alternative energy technologies such as safe hydrogen fuel cells that could produce electrical power on-board the EV itself. Hydrogen is produced by the electrolysis of water and when burned produces nothing but water vapor. It is a viable method of storing low carbon electricity produced by solar and wind power.
Instead of spreading misinformation and creating more chaos, the politicians we have elected to represent all of us in both Washington, DC and Lansing should be focusing our governmental resources on finding ways to expedite this transition for the benefit of not just current voters, but for our grandchildren who will have to live with the adverse effects of severe climate change if we do not act today!
It’s going to be a