On Apr. 2, 2011, concerned citizens listen to speakers at the rally preceding the Bridge for Unity Walk across the Portage Lift Bridge in Houghton. Many carry signs indicating solidarity with workers, unions and teachers. This Thursday, Apr. 7, Terry LaJeunesse of the Michigan Education Association, who spoke at the rally, will offer a presentation / discussion on his telephone conversation with State Rep. Matt Huuki. Click on photo for larger version. (Photo by Keweenaw Now)*
HOUGHTON -- The Upper Peninsula Community Action Team (WUPCAT) is hosting a presentation and discussion at 6:30 p.m. at the Michigan Tech Memorial Union Commons Area on Thursday, April 7. The talk will be led by Michigan Education Association representative, Terry LaJeunesse, who will report on the details of a phone conversation he had with State Rep. Matt Huuki following the Bridge for Unity Walk that took place in Houghton, Mich., on Saturday, April 2.
The WUPCAT event is free and open to the public.
During the 45-minute phone conversation Monday with LaJeunesse, State Rep. Huuki refused a request to meet with a group of constituents if they are public employee union representatives or members, indicating that he saw no point in having a discussion with people who do not support his positions. He called unions "irrelevant," and confirmed that he fully supports Governor Snyder’s new Emergency Financial Manager (EMF) law.
Elise Matz, Houghton County Democratic Party (HCDP) Communications vice chair and co-organizer of the Bridge for Unity Walk, said the presentation will be followed by a discussion.
"We want to talk to people about not just the budget and the EMF, but about the 40-something anti-worker bills that are making their way through the Michigan legislature right now," Matz said. "We are going to distribute printouts of legislation being tracked by the AFL-CIO for people to peruse. We will welcome them to follow up with questions."
The bills include those that would strictly curtail collective bargaining rights, force privatization of public services, and weaken worker safety protections. Local union representatives and members will be present.
WUPCAT is a non-partisan volunteer group committed to supporting labor rights in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. It is not endorsed by any political candidate or political candidate committee.
Brian Rendel, Houghton County Democratic Party co-chair, said HCDP members last month asserted their commitment to support local labor in its struggle against the Republican war on workers.
"We stand in solidarity with public employees and the membership of every local union," Rendel said. "We will fight for public employees, organized labor in the private sector, low-income workers, students, retirees, teachers, schools, universities, municipalities, and families."
The Houghton County Democrats will hold their regular (first Wednesday) monthly meeting at 7 p.m. tonight, Wednesday, Apr. 6, at the Super 8 Motel in Houghton.
*Editor's Note: See our Apr. 4 article, "Bridge for Unity Walk calls for citizen involvement against Gov. Snyder's budget cuts, new legislation."
See photos of the Bridge for Unity Walk by Jeremy Sandrik on his flickr page.
See video of the Walk by Brian Rendel and friends.