Growing and strengthening west Michigan's middle class
GRAND RAPIDS February 20, 2015– Sen. Gary Peters visited the Kent-Ionia Labor Center on Tuesday to pledge his support to Michigan’s labor community, and to open up a discussion with west Michigan’s union leaders as he begins his first term in the U.S. Senate.
The hour-long meeting began with Sen. Peters acknowledging the importance of organized labor in the fight for economic justice in this country.
“You can’t have a strong democracy if you don’t have a strong middle class,” Peters said. “And you in labor are the backbone, fighting to make it happen.”
He pointed out the correlation between union density and wage stagnation.
“As union membership declines, so do incomes. That’s no coincidence,” Peters said.
Before opening up the floor to the two dozen union leaders in the room, Peters made a commitment to the labor community.
“You’ve always had my back, and I’ll always have yours.”
The senator then asked the group to let him know what issues were important to them and their members, and the discussion ranged from Social Security and tax reform to challenging right-to-work laws and safety for public transit workers.
One topic came up over and over, however: campaign finance reform. The way to reform this country, and give it back to the people, Peters agreed, is to take the big money factor out of political campaigns. When corporate-backed Super PACs and donors like the Koch brothers throw billions of dollars into elections, it’s hard for middle class interests to rise to the forefront.
“When it comes to fixing the middle class, it all comes back to fixing campaign finance laws,” Peters said.
KICLC President Sean Egan (IBEW 275) closed the meeting with an open invite to Sen. Peters to come back to west Michigan as often as his schedule will allow, and urged the senator to be a strong advocate and vocal supporter for workers and the middle class in Washington DC.