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Michigan is my home.  My great grandparents immigrated to the United States, searching for a better life.  They fought in World War I.  Their children survived the great depression with harrowing stories that would horrify anyone that would listen -- except for the fact that the hardships they faced at the age of 8 or 10 or 12 would be so unimaginable to someone that is alive today.  They followed Henry Ford to Detroit to work for $5 day, to escape the copper mines of the beautiful Upper Peninsula (a land even today, so beautiful that if heaven existed on earth, it would be there).  I have the time sheets, and the pictures that paint a view of their world; one in which there was no such thing as worker safety, nor of the concept of overtime.  There were no lawyers to fight for their rights (of which there were not many). OSHA didn't exist.  Social Security or health insurance didn't exist.  There was no social safety net.  Nothing to prevent corporations from chewing up and spitting out the carcases of workers and replacing them with bodies, willing to do anything for a chance to put food on their families' table.   I have the original bank statements that showed their account balances as the Great Depression set in.  And then, after all of that, their draft notices to call them away from their homes at the ages of 18, 19, 20, to fight another battle, to fight another war for their country.

And that's what troubles me now...

I have heard their stories of their return to America, victorious in the grand scheme of things.  I have their pictures.  I know that they and my parents rose up from nothing, my father put himself through college, to pass the bar and work for the state for 35 years.  Along the way, working as the union rep.  (Today, he considers himself a Republican, but values these things as normal).  My mother became a nurse, and works for the county.  Both of them are Republicans, both were, or are in, a union.

And through all of this, through every story of hardship, of sacrifice, it never completely dawned on me, because they downplayed it as something that they thought was just the thing that they were supposed to do.  My great-grandfather opened store after store in downtown Detroit.  First, a bar/tavern.  Then prohibition set in a and they had to figure something out.  And they opened a shoe store, and then a general store.  They kept going.  My grandfather fought in the Pacific, and came back to become a Detroit Police Officer and eventually a whistle-blower (making the front page of the Detroit Free Press).  Still, after all of these stories, the idea that I was a Michigander didn't really sink in.

When I saw the line of Michigan State Police cars lined up outside the capital, I thought that it reminded me of Egypt with the tanks in Tahrir.  See, I went to Egypt during the tail end of the 2011 Revolution.  I camped out in Tahrir and talked with anyone I could find.  I heard story after story about how they wanted to change their country.  No longer were they afraid.  No longer were they going to accept being denied their full potential.  I learned that they drew some of their motivation from the history of our country.  They were fighting for the things that generations ago here, were fighting for.  The labor issues that we have fought for, that we have won, they are now fighting for themselves, and using our example. And I realized that we took everything we had for granted.  Our problems at the time, seemed to pale in comparison.  I thought that no matter how bad it was in the states, it was still 100x better than anywhere else.  

The truth was, I was complacent.

When I read the events in Michigan this week, from my job in Afghanistan on my realllllly slow internet connection, I nearly cried.  The fire inside me, the pride I have for our great state, for the history behind all of the things that make America great (which began right here... in the Motor City), let itself out.  We have gone from the heart of the labor movement to being pushed around by huge corporate interests.  We have let the people of Michigan down, by not educating ourselves on how unions actually work, and what benefits they bring... not only to the employees, but to the companies as well.  We have gotten to a point where we have been convinced that our voices do not matter, where our actions do not matter.  We are afraid to speak out because we don't want to lose our jobs.  We are afraid to speak out because we are afraid that someone else will take our job because the economy is so shakey.  We are unwilling to fight because we have "ours", and the rest should get "theirs".  We have stopped working with and for each other, even though our common interests make achieving our goals possible.

We are the economy.  We are the muscle.  We are the engine that makes this work.  So goes Detroit, so goes Michigan, and so goes our country.

We have a responsibility to ourselves, to our friends, to our community, and to our colleagues and neighbors, to fight for the rights of all of us.  Because when we wait until it only affects us, it's almost too late.  When it affects all of us, the State Legislature will vote in things as they have just done.  And it's too late.  They have waited for us to be at our weakest.  They waited for us to realize the down turned economy.  They waited for us to start having to have a 2 income household to feed our families.  They waited for unemployment to be so high, as to discourage anyone from worrying about anyone else.  The truth is that we are weaker than 2 or 3 generations ago.   Back then,  we would have fought back right away.  We would have pushed back because of our sense of belonging and the fact that if one person in our community was suffering, we all suffered.  They waited for the middle class to wither away, for the gap between the rich and the poor to become so great as to discourage anyone from trying to change the system.  We went from a moment of strength to one of fear.  And then they pounced.  

Pay your fair share has caused endless debate during this election cycle.  Anyone who works in a place that has a union is benefiting.  To be able to not pay any union dues, and reap the statutory mandated benefits of that effort is not paying their fair share.  To be clear, their contribution is already not allowed to be used for political purposes.  As I said in my intro, my mother pays her dues, and enjoys the benefits of her union.  Even at times, she may not like the deal they have struck, but she knows that it is better than what she could have negotiated on her own, especially if everyone were on their own.  If anyone worked at a union shop and honestly believed that they could negotiate a better rate, they would have left by now for greener pastures.

So now it's time to fight.  Now it's time to organize, to march, to protest.  It's time to get twitter and facebook going, and it's time to put real blood, sweat, and tears into it.  It's time to sacrifice an afternoon, a weekend, and evening.  It's time to show our children that there is something worth fighting for.  Whether it's at the capital building or putting up a sign.  It's not going to be convenient, but then again, nothing worth fight for ever has been.  It wasn't worth giving up a business when prohibition was passed, it wasn't convenient when the draft came.  It's not convenient now.  But if we pull together, we are all in this, and none of us loses.

So call your State Senator, your State Representative, our governor, and your federal representatives.  make them aware of your views, and make your voices heard.  Post on Facebook, update Twitter, engage your fellow citizens.  Now is the time to start believing that you have a voice.  You do have a voice.

I've added the Facebook, Twitter Feeds, and Campaign Websites for all of the current House Members.  I was surprised that I couldn't find anything on Google, so I spent more time that I originally expected.  A few notes:
* There are many reps that have not fully embraced social media.  We should be encouraging our reps to get a Facebook and a Twitter account
* I visited all of the reps' websites.  Blue is definitely in.  Most Rs had a blue themed site, with no indication of political party.
* Still can't figure out why there is so much white space below...

Gov. Snyder:
Michigan Office:        517-373-3400
Lieutenant Governor's Office:      517-373-6800
Washington, D.C. Office:     202-624-5840
Northern Michigan Office:     906-228-2850

Dis. Name Party Phone Facebook Twitter Campaign Web Site
Link 1 Timothy Bledsoe D (517) 373-0154 Facebook    
Link 2 Lisa Howze D (517) 373-0106 Facebook Twitter  
Link 3 Alberta Tinsley Talabi D (517) 373-1776 Facebook    
Link 4 Maureen L. Stapleton D (517) 373-1008 Facebook    
Link 5 John Olumba D (517) 373-0144 Facebook Twitter Website
Link 6 Frederick C. Durhal Jr. D (517) 373-0844      
Link 7 James Womack D (517) 373-0589 Facebook   Website
Link 8 Thomas Stallworth III D (517) 373-2276 Facebook    
Link 9 Shanelle Jackson D (517) 373-1705 Facebook Twitter Website
Link 10 Harvey Santana D (517) 373-6990 Facebook Twitter Website
Link 11 David E. Nathan D (517) 373-3815 Facebook Twitter Website
Link 12 Rashida Tlaib D (517) 373-0823 Facebook Twitter Website
Link 13 Andrew J. Kandrevas D (517) 373-0845 Facebook    
Link 14 Paul Clemente D (517) 373-0140      
Link 15 George T. Darany D (517) 373-0847 Facebook Twitter  
Link 16 Bob Constan D (517) 373-0849 Facebook    
Link 17 Phil Cavanagh D (517) 373-0857 Facebook   Website
Link 18 Richard LeBlanc D (517) 373-2576 Facebook   Website
Link 19 John J. Walsh R (517) 373-3920 Facebook   Website
Link 20 Kurt Heise R (517) 373-3816 Facebook   Website
Link 21 Dian Slavens D (517) 373-2575 Facebook   Website
Link 22 Douglas A. Geiss D (517) 373-0852     Website
Link 23 Pat Somerville R (517) 373-0855 Facebook Twitter Website
Link 24 Anthony G. Forlini R (517) 373-0113 Facebook    
Link 25 Jon M. Switalski D (517) 373-1772 Facebook Twitter Website
Link 26 Jim Townsend D (517) 373-3818 Facebook Twitter Website
Link 27 Ellen Cogen Lipton D (517) 373-0478     Website
Link 28 Lesia Liss D (517) 373-2275     Website
Link 29 Tim Greimel D (517) 373-0475 Facebook Twitter  
Link 30 Jeff Farrington R (517) 373-7768   Twitter Website
Link 31 Marilyn Lane D (517) 373-0159 Facebook   Website
Link 32 Andrea LaFontaine R (517) 373-8931     Website
Link 33 Ken Goike R (517) 373-0820 Facebook   Website
Link 34 Woodrow Stanley D (517) 373-8808 Facebook    
Link 35 Rudy Hobbs D (517) 373-1788 Facebook Twitter Website
Link 36 Peter J. Lund R (517) 373-0843 Facebook    
Link 37 Vicki Barnett D (517) 373-1793 Facebook   Website
Link 38 Hugh D. Crawford R (517) 373-0827     Website
Link 39 Lisa Brown D (517) 373-1799 Facebook   Website
Link 40 Charles Moss R (517) 373-8670     Website
Link 41 Martin Knollenberg R (517) 373-1783   Twitter  
Link 42 Harold L. Haugh D (517) 373-0854 Facebook    
Link 43 Gail Haines R (517) 373-0615 Facebook Twitter Website
Link 44 Eileen Kowall R (517) 373-2616 Facebook   Website
Link 45 Tom McMillin R (517) 373-1773 Facebook   Website
Link 46 Bradford C. Jacobsen R (517) 373-1798 Facebook Twitter Website
Link 47 Cynthia S. Denby R (517) 373-8835 Facebook   Website
Link 48 Richard E. Hammel D (517) 373-7557      
Link 49 Jim Ananich D (517) 373-7515 Facebook Twitter Website
Link 50 Charles Smiley D (517) 373-3906 Facebook   Website
Link 51 Joseph Graves R (517) 373-1780 Facebook   Website
Link 52 Mark Ouimet R (517) 373-0828 Facebook   Website
Link 53 Jeff Irwin D (517) 373-2577 Facebook   Website
Link 54 David Rutledge D (517) 373-1771 Facebook   Website
Link 55 Rick Olson R (517) 373-1792 Facebook   Website
Link 56 Dale W. Zorn R (517) 373-2617     Website
Link 57 Nancy E. Jenkins R (517) 373-1706 Facebook   Website
Link 58 Kenneth Kurtz R (517) 373-1794 Facebook    
Link 59 Matthew J. Lori R (517) 373-0832      
Link 60 Sean McCann D (517) 373-1785 Facebook Twitter Website
Link 61 Margaret E. O'Brien R (517) 373-1774 Facebook Twitter Website
Link 62 Kate Segal D (517) 373-0555 Facebook Twitter Website
Link 63 Jase Bolger R (517) 373-1787 Facebook   Website
Link 64 Earl Poleski R (517) 373-1795 Facebook Twitter Website
Link 65 Michael Shirkey R (517) 373-1775 Facebook   Website
Link 66 William Rogers R (517) 373-1784 Facebook    
Link 67 Barb Byrum D (517) 373-0587 Facebook    
Link 68 Joan Bauer D (517) 373-0826     Website
Link 69 Mark S. Meadows D (517) 373-1786 Facebook    
Link 70 Rick Outman R (517) 373-0834 Facebook   Website
Link 71 Deb Lynn Shaughnessy R (517) 373-0853 Facebook    
Link 72 Ken Yonker R (517) 373-0840 Facebook   Website
Link 73 Peter MacGregor R (517) 373-0218 Facebook   Website
Link 74 David Agema R (517) 373-8900     Website
Link 75 Brandon Dillon D (517) 373-2668   Twitter Website
Link 76 Roy Schmidt R (517) 373-0822     Website
Link 77 Thomas B. Hooker R (517) 373-2277     Website
Link 78 Sharon Tyler R (517) 373-1796 Facebook Twitter Website
Link 79 Al Pscholka R (517) 373-1403 Facebook   Website
Link 80 Aric Nesbitt R (517) 373-0839 Facebook   Website
Link 81 Judson S. Gilbert II R (517) 373-1790      
Link 82 Kevin Daley R (517) 373-1800     Website
Link 83 Paul Muxlow R (517) 373-0835 Facebook   Website
Link 84 Kurt Damrow R (517) 373-0476 Facebook   Website
Link 85 Ben Glardon R (517) 373-0841 Facebook   Website
Link 86 Lisa Posthumus Lyons R (517) 373-0846 Facebook   Website
Link 87 Mike Callton R (517) 373-0842 Facebook   Website
Link 88 Robert J. Genetski II R (517) 373-0836   Twitter Website
Link 89 Amanda Price R (517) 373-0838 Facebook Twitter Website
Link 90 Joseph Haveman R (517) 373-0830 Facebook    
Link 91 Holly Hughes R (517) 373-3436 Facebook   Website
Link 92 Marcia Hovey-Wright D (517) 373-2646 Facebook   Website
Link 93 Paul E. Opsommer R (517) 373-1778      
Link 94 Kenneth B. Horn R (517) 373-0837 Facebook    
Link 95 Stacy Erwin Oakes D (517) 373-0152 Facebook Twitter Website
Link 96 Charles M. Brunner D (517) 373-0158 Facebook   Website
Link 97 Joel Johnson R (517) 373-8962 Facebook   Website
Link 98 Jim Stamas R (517) 373-1791 Facebook    
Link 99 Kevin Cotter R (517) 373-1789   Twitter Website
Link 100 Jon Bumstead R (517) 373-7317 Facebook    
Link 101 Ray A. Franz R (517) 373-0825     Website
Link 102 Phil Potvin R (517) 373-1747 Facebook   Website
Link 103 Bruce R. Rendon R (517) 373-3817 Facebook   Website
Link 104 Wayne A. Schmidt R (517) 373-1766     Website
Link 105 Greg MacMaster R (517) 373-0829 Facebook Twitter Website
Link 106 Peter Pettalia R (517) 373-0833     Website
Link 107 Frank Foster R (517) 373-2629 Facebook Twitter Website
Link 108 Ed McBroom R (517) 373-0156 Facebook   Website
Link 109 Steven Lindberg D (517) 373-0498 Facebook    
Link 110 Matt Huuki R (517) 373-0850 Facebook   Website

Tue Dec 11, 2012 at 10:13 AM PT: [UPDATE]
I've added the Facebook, Twitter Feeds, and Campaign Websites for all of the current House Members.  I was surprised that I couldn't find anything on Google, so I spent more time that I originally expected.  A few notes:
* There are many reps that have not fully embraced social media.  We should be encouraging our reps to get a Facebook and a Twitter account
* I visited all of the reps' websites.  Blue is definitely in.  Most Rs had a blue themed site, with no indication of political party.
* Still can't figure out why there is so much white space below...

Originally posted to victoryleft on Mon Dec 10, 2012 at 12:26 PM PST.

Also republished by Michigan, My Michigan.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Thanks for this diary ... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    vzfk3s, Lonely Texan

    ... a call to action and a nice remembrance.

    It's going to take a long time for we Michiganders to clear the stench out of Lansing, but the effort's worth it.

    It begins tomorrow.

    •  It did begin... but it's not over. (0+ / 0-)

      We need to have a 110 district plan for 2014.  It starts now, finding people to run, people that have the values that benefit everyone in our state.  And we have to look outside of our own districts.  Because issues that affect all of us are decided on by more than just our own reps, that means supporting via social media, it means getting others to help donate, volunteering to help with phone banks.  For the Ds that are up for re-election, it means helping them get re-elected.  For Rs that are coming up for re-election it means finding good opposition while it's early.  There's a lot of work to be done.

  •  Doesn't seem to be much we can do... (0+ / 0-)

    Snyder sounds determined to sign.

    Mostly, people just don't understand what right to work means here

    •  There is something you can do. You can call. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      gregsullmich, victoryleft

      You matter, and, you might be surprised at who remembers being able to take a vacation up north because their dad worked a union job and had a vacation and good wages.

      All the retirees know what right to work means. Don't kid yourself.

      •  I'll be updating this... (0+ / 0-)

        to add twitter feeds, facebook pages, and contact pages for all state reps.  If people follow all of these politicians, they will be more engaged in knowing what is going on on a daily basis, and they will write about it.  Just cracking that idea that we are somehow removed from teh process will help.

  •  Only 18% of workers in Michigan are unionized (0+ / 0-)

    I'm afraid we're not going to win this battle because so few people have a stake in this. The race to the bottom continues in America.

    •  right, but... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Lonely Texan

      we can win this.  Even though 18% are unionized, we all have parents that were in unions... there is still an institutional memory.  We can't do it overnight, but we can over time.  Unions have a bad name, and there are things we can do to improve that.  

    Recommended by:
    Dump Terry McAuliffe, sabo33

    Remember the Georgia Pacific forests in Wisconsin are contiguous to Northern Michigan.

    And of course, they have worked for years to keep northern Michigan poor and ignorant.

    I spent part of the summer working for a very good candidate, Gary McDowell, running against Tea Party Idiot Benishek in Mi-1. (Honestly against birth control! Good position for a doctor, right?) McDowell only lost by a few hundred votes; was leading until a million dollar last minute ad blitz by the Kochs, and being abandoned by the Dems. (That's another whole diary!)

    And then there was the head of the Michigan Dem Party, who cut a deal with Snyder on "Right to work for less" and refused to commit his party organization to the Snyder recall.
    How did that getcha?

    I refuse to donate to Michigan Dems. I will only work in person and donate to specific Dem candidates who totally commit to supporting unions and the environment in Michigan. For them, I'll donate my shoe rubber (New Balance, made in the USA.)

    •  well, I posted... (0+ / 0-)

      links to our of our state reps.  State senators are next.  And then we start following on social media.  It's one thing to write a letter -- it's another to post it publicly so that others see it and see the response that the officials have.

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