This morning in Grand Rapids, Michigan workers responded to an explosive Bridge Michigan deep dive exposing the devastating consequences of DeVos sellout Tudor Dixon’s tenure at Michigan Steel, a Muskegon foundry.
In Dixon’s years operating as a company executive with a hand in “every aspect” of day-to-day operations, Michigan Steel stood out as a “dirty,” “nasty” foundry that routinely endangered its workers, got served with multiple lawsuits for not paying bills, and failed to pay every employee up to the CEO before laying off its entire 300-employee workforce and being completely liquidated shortly afterward.
Read quotes from these workers below highlighting how Dixon’s shoddy, anti-worker leadership more than proves to hardworking Michigan families that she doesn’t deserve to lead the state.
Ben Smith, IBEW Local 275 member based in Grand Rapids:
“I’ve experienced wage theft. I had the opportunity with my non-union work to head up a project for my employer that involved electrical upgrades in three-star hotels throughout the state of Michigan from as far south as Kalamazoo all the way up to Mackinac City. When I was offered this opportunity, my employer offered me a $2,000 incentive to take on this task and head up everything. […] As the non-union [employers] like to do, I was given the ultimatum to take this with the incentive or I would be forced to do it anyway without the incentive, and if I still refused, then I would lose my job. So what do you do?
“Right away there were issues. I was given a crew to work with of entirely apprentices. For those that don’t know, it is illegal in the state of Michigan to perform electrical work without the supervision of a journeyman or master electrician. This, as you can imagine, led to a number of issues. In addition to having faulty equipment that no one knew how to use, including the people supplying it, the job didn’t last long. […] Did I receive that incentive at any point in time? No. All I got for my hard work and hours put in was time away from my wife and my baby girl, and long, long days.
“This story by no means is inclusive. I know there are many people that have experienced far, far worse than that. People at [Michigan Steel], because of the way it was liquidated, they will never, ever get those lost wages back. That’s a tragedy, in addition to the people that were hurt. They’ll be out of work for the rest of their lives.
“That’s why unions today are as important as they were when they were first formed. The exploitation looks different today…but make no mistake it happens still, and it happens in our backyard. My story happened in Grand Rapids, [Michigan Steel] took place in Muskegon. You ask yourself, what kind of a person allows these things to happen? There are people that don’t see workers as humans, they see them as a means to an end. To increase profits, they see them as numbers. Unions are here to remind people that workers…build up the middle class and we’re here to keep the middle class. […] The kind of people that exploit workers like this are puffed up petty tyrants with large egos.”
Casey Zaucha, Vice President of Carpenters and Millwrights Local 1004:
“I work in [the Michigan Regional Council of Carpenters and Millwrights] training center, right here in Wayland, Michigan. I’ve been a union carpenter for a little over 16 years. In that time, I’ve given multiple training class opportunities like OSHA30, MUST Training, and Foundation for Safety Leadership Training, to name a few. All these classes are designed to give the individual the knowledge to create and sustain safe and productive job sites.
“To us productivity and safety are some of the most important things in all work environments. Now most of the time safety issues start on a jobsite by being brought up by the workers. But everyone from the owner to supervision to the worker should hold safety as a top priority.
“Because we all know OSHA can’t be everywhere at once, we depend on workers to speak up when they see a hazard at work. As an employer I would want all my employees to bring any hazard to my attention to ensure that we don’t lose productivity, or time or money due to injury. That’s why we need employers to step up and take action of these hazard notifications. […]
“While Tudor Dixon makes her anti-worker record even longer, Governor Whitmer has been fighting for workers, just like she always has been.
“Governor Whitmer signed an executive directive fighting payroll fraud by cracking down on employers that misclassify workers as “independent contractors” and deny them critical benefits like overtime pay, workers comp, and healthcare. She reinstated prevailing wage for state contracts so workers are paid fairly and infrastructure is built right by skilled professionals. […]
“Right now, she is fighting to fully repeal the retirement tax, which would save half a million households an average of $1,000 every year because after a lifetime of hard work and saving, seniors should be able to keep more of their hard-earned dollars. I think all of us can see the value of retirement after such labor-intensive careers!”