Detroit is ‘epicenter of this fight,’ labor leader Shuler tells Motor City-area striking workers 

AFL-CIO National President Liz Shuler during March for Workers’ Rights and Economic Justice in Detroit on Oct. 19. (Michigan Advance/Ken Coleman)

By Michigan Advance

October 20, 2023

BY KEN COLEMAN, MICHIGAN ADVANCE

DETROIT—Rain did not stop hundreds of striking workers from taking to the streets of downtown Detroit on Thursday during what they called a March for Workers’ Rights and Economic Justice.

“Detroiters, welcome to Strike City,” a union activist shouted to massive cheers.

They were joined by Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist, AFL-CIO National President Liz Shuler and UNITE HERE International Union Secretary-Treasurer Gwen Mills. At least three Detroit City Council members also attended, President Mary Sheffield and members Coleman Young II and Gabriela Santiago-Romero.

“When we fight, what do we do?” Gilchrist asked from the podium at Hart Plaza.

“We win!” hundreds responded in unison.

Thousands of auto workers at Stellantis, GM and Ford plants across the country and UAW workers at Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Michigan have been on strike since mid September.

“We are asking for increases in wages and how long it takes for a new-hire employee to go to max pay,” Derrick Jackson, vice president at UAW Local 2500, which represents about 600 members, told the Advance in September. “You can be an employee for 15 and 20 years and not get max pay.”

UAW President Shawn Fain is set to do a 4.p.m. Friday livestream updating workers on the state of the strike against the Detroit Three. In the past, he has sometimes announced new strike sites.

In addition, about 3,700 workers in Detroit’s casino industry who are represented by UNITE HERE, the UAW, the Teamsters, the Operating Engineers and the Carpenters went on strike Tuesday. Service Employees International Union (SEIU) nursing workers also have launched strikes in metro Detroit.

“We’re on strike right now because we must create a new social contract where workers can thrive and enjoy the dignity of their lives,” Mills said on Thursday about casino workers.

Shuler made her third visit to metro Detroit in the last several weeks. She marched in the annual Labor Day parade in Detroit and three weeks later rallied with Ford’s Michigan Assembly Plant striking workers.

She described Detroit as the “epicenter of this fight.”

“We need to stay strong. One day longer; one day stronger,” Shuler stated. “Because going to tell those executives you can not face down this labor movement and win. We are the ones who are going to win.”

This coverage was republished from Michigan Advance pursuant to a Creative Commons license. 

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