2013: Split among organized labor

By Andy Balaskovitz

This election is an off year for unity among organized labor. Let’s take Mayor Virg Bernero and his slate, for example.

They took home nods from the Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce and the UAW Region 1-C in a highly publicized joint endorsement some say hadn’t happened in decades. Council candidates Kathie Dunbar, Judi Brown Clarke, Jessica Yorko and Tina Houghton, which Bernero’s slate comprises, are those with the joint endorsement.

But add to that the Greater Lansing Labor Council — the “union of all the unions,” as it proclaims itself on its website — which represents over 40 unions in the area. The Labor Council endorsed Bernero and Brown Clarke, but also two candidates not on Bernero’s slate: Chong-Anna Canfora in the 4th Ward and Brian Jeffries in the At-Large race.

While candidates on the Bernero slate are praising their ability to unify business and labor groups, Glenn Freeman III, president of the Greater Lansing Labor Council said of the lack of unity among unions: “I wish it didn’t happen. We didn’t stay unified.”

What was different this year from the past? “I wish I knew. I guess they didn’t want to support winning candidates,” he said of the UAW.

Some have quietly speculated that Bernero pulled strings with the regional UAW to go against locals, but Freeman declined to speculate on that rumor.

“We did a joint screening with the UAW CAP Council and the Greater Lansing Labor Council,” he said. “We just came out with different results when we tabulated the points.”